Diercks, Shavalla – Surviving Mesothelioma

Diercks, Shavalla

James “Rhino” O’Conner inspired me with is optimistic spirit and belief in something greater than himself. I also like “Rhino” have an optimistic spirit and greater belief in something other than myself. We are all faced with challenges and hardships but how we deal with it makes us the person that people will remember. I truly believe we are all placed here for a purpose; I’m not sure what my purpose is, but I feel that my journey is just beginning.

I have just received a phone call from my family physician. I went to the family physician last week because in everyday activities I just seemed tired and short of breath. I was told that I needed to come in as soon as possible and I need to have a family member present. I am so worried what could be going on that my family needs to be present. So I call my mom at work and told her I needed her to go to the doctor with me, She asked my why and I said I am not sure the doctor wants me to come in. Can you take me? With little hesitation my mom was there to pick me up within an hour. The doctor called me in because my blood work was off, my white blood cells were leveled and he had concerns due to my existing problems. He sent me for a CT of the chest. He asked us to wait around for a while and that he would have the results soon. We went to the waiting room and sat with little to say, it is so scary not knowing what’s going on a million things are going through my head. As the nurse calls my name we have a sigh of relief, the wait is over. The doctor has known me my whole life and I him and I have never seen this look on this face before. He tells me that he has some concerns and that he would like to refer me to another physician. I asked what kind of physician, why you can’t just take care of this. He said that he thinks that there might be a mass on my lung and he wants someone with the right experience needs to take over, but he would follow up with me and see how things are going. He told me that not all masses are cancer so not to get up set to soon. My first step would be to a surgeon this is where they went in and did a biopsy of the mass by my lung. The doctor came out and talked with my parents while I was in recovery and told them the results would be back in a week or less and the office would call to set up an appointment to come in. He told them everything went fine and it would take an hour or so and I would be able to go home with little lifting for a couple of days. As time went by that week we are all crazy with anticipation for the phone to ring with the results. Finally the results were here we had an appointment the next day. The nurse called us back and sat us in a room where she than put a box of Kleenex down not exactly what you want to see as soon as you sat down but hey people cry from joy also. So the surgeon came in and gave us the news that yes it is cancer. He told us that the mass contained cancer cells and that I would need to follow up with an oncologist and the nurse would make the appointment. I was so in shock that I did not know what to do. I wanted to cry but then again I just did not want to believe it. How can I have lung cancer I am only nineteen, I have never even had a cigarette. How can this be true? As I look over I see my parents are beside themselves crying with a look of deviation on their face. They are asking the doctor all kinds of questions and it’s like I can’t even hear what’s going on because I am confused, shocked. I felt like I was in a Charlie brown movie like they play around the holidays, you know the one that goes wha wha waaaaa.

I was sent to St John’s cancer center where I meant my oncologist. He seemed to be the only one without that weird look of fear on his face when he talked about my cancer. He explained that we had many options but that we needed to act fast because the cancer cells that was found was a fast growing cell. He gave me the option to have radiation to shrink the mass, then surgery to remove the mass and follow up with chemo. He told me that this would be a long hard journey but it was a journey that would have to be made if I was to have any hope of survival. He gave me resources to support groups, cancer coordinator, supplied referrals, and even let me talk to past patients with my diagnosis. This is where my journey begins; I am a single nineteen year old female. This is my first year in college and I just got diagnosed with lung cancer. I think my life is going to change but I will not let cancer change me. I am not going roll over and give up. I have a lot of life to live and I am going to live it.

I have now completed radiation and the mass did not shrink as planed the doctor wants me to proceed with chemo. I am getting tired and weak I am so thankful that there are support groups and resources for me and my family to make it through this. I have in home health care coming out to help me with medication and everyday living. I just got put on oxygen last week and another round of chemo is due in another week. I have been researching in my time at home other options to help with the plan that my doctor has given me. I am doing yoga to help control my breathing. I am mediating more and praying every day. I feel like my faith is stronger now that I have begun all of this.

As the months go on my health has stayed stable. I am still on oxygen but I am living life to its fullest I have joined support groups. I have also done much research on the internet, libraries, and universities. I will always be looking for the answer to my prayers but for now I will be an advocate for all cancer patients in my actions. I am currently active in the Relay for Life raising money and awareness for the cure. Doing this I know I still have the faith to go on no matter what I believe I can beat this. No matter what I will keep going on with my life and do my everyday things or try to do my everyday things on my own. Hospice started coming in and helping me. They come in every two days to make sure I am eating and taking my medication I know I don’t have long to live but I think God will still let me beat the cancer.

I am still enrolled in college and plan to graduate with my degree in Early Childhood. I plan on being a preschool or kindergarten teacher since working with young children is something I enjoy and have always wanted to do. I also enjoy going to college since I get the chance to meet new people and share what I have been through. This makes many people realize that cancer can happen at any age. But I want everyone to know as long as you have faith in yourself that you can do just about anything and be successful.

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