In applying for this scholarship I learned much about Mesothelioma. This cancer, which I can now pronounce and spell properly, occurs in the lining of the lungs, heart, abdomen, or internal reproductive organs, and eventually spreads. Patients have various directions to go in while researching this disease based on personal differences and several choices with regards to treatment options. Cancer Monthly’s authoritative mesothelioma survivor’s website www.survivingmesothelioma.com is a promising resource, with information on this cancer‘s diagnosis, treatments, facts, and testimonials. People become in control with knowledge, like Mr. O’Conner, being informed makes us active participants in vital choices of our health and well-being.
First of all, I can’t imagine the fear and shock one feels with a diagnosis of Mesothelioma, but for the sake of this essay, I will try to relate. If I were diagnosed with this illness, I would need some time for fear to subside, realization to kick in, and acceptance established. Then, I would start my research, step by step. I would not fall into desperation out of ignorance, but would take charge of this circumstance through my investigative personality. I find strength in knowledge, as many people do, I would learn everything I could through various resources such as support groups, doctors, patients, conferences, libraries, and most importantly, computer technology. There are many advantages through computers, websites and links can help us research a multitude of topics, all within a touch of a keyboard.
Sure, I would investigate the traditional remedies, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy; and their success rates. I would have to feel confident in the outcome before I put my body through any of these physical tortures. I would most likely, and with interest, explore many non-traditional avenues, which are less invasive. These methods include gene therapy, photodynamic therapy, herbal remedies, nutrition, homeopathy, acupuncture, massage, and spiritual beliefs. There are many new ideas in alternative medicine today, many worth looking into. There are also many old fashioned remedies that truly heal. Chicken soup is one of my favorites.
My approach to treatment would be a “multimodality” approach, the combination of many treatments, research says it has the best cure rate. In my search of positive outcomes there are many combinations of treatments I would try. Why limit your health to a strict regiment that someone else prescribes, when there are many options available to you.
Why not explore something new? What do we have to loose? I would involve myself in clinical trial, if I understood, agreed with, and accepted the risks of the experiment. With new insights I could be a part of a great innovative journey that may help, not only myself, but also others in the future with the expanded possibilities created from the study.
I believe in a holistic approach to health; the treating of the mind, body, and spirit individually to create a whole well being. This philosophical view states that you can only reach optimal health if you are well mentally, physically, and spiritually. Looking into new ways to improve and expand positively on any of these aspects for balance in life can only be a benefit. Working on a positive attitude, a strong body, and enduring beliefs would be a goal for me.
Reflecting on my life, as everyone does from time to time, would feel more urgent. Although, I am content and have led a wonderful life what details do I need to ponder, understand, or resolve? Who do I need to forgive to free myself from bitterness? What do I need to do that I have not done yet? I would prioritize a list of things to do, like in the movie “Bucket List”, and do them.
Quality of life, to me, is more important than quantity. I would not extend my life beyond my capabilities just to be around for more days or even months. Yes, my determination, strength, and incredible fight against a disease can carry me through many years, but when suffering starts, my intuition, along with faith and prayer will become my guide. What is life, if it is lived suffering? Living in pain becomes a selfless commitment. I know this first hand through my aunt, who survived 7 years with colon cancer, but suffered much.
Individuals will ultimately decide on courses of action based on personal values and beliefs, weighing these against what they have learned. Wisdom does not only come from doctors, but from anyone well informed. I have great admiration for Mr. O’Conner, like many people, he had the determination to prevail beyond the expected in many areas. No one has the right to tell a person how long they have to live, or even what the expected outcome of their disease may be, there are too many variables in life, including miracles. There is always more to think about, learn, and try and it is through this process that we become self- reliant and comfortable in our decisions, even in the end, when we feel the time is right to let go.