A Patient’s Prognosis Is Not A Final Word For Their Life

I am a nursing student and I realize the importance of patient education. Because we share knowledge with each other we improve as a civilization and as a community. James Rhio O’Connor also believed that sharing his life story, especially cancer treatment choices would benefit many patients diagnosed with cancer as well as health care providers (www.cancermonthly.com). James Rhio O’Connor was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, a form of cancer when malignant cells originate in pleura (membrane surrounding lungs) caused by exposure to asbestos at a young age (www.survivingmesothelioma.com). Because of the location of the tumor he didn’t even have an option for surgery. After his doctor explained that he would live for a year, he refused to wait for death while going through unbearable chemotherapy. He was determined to outlive the prognosis and still maintain an ordinary lifestyle. Instead of intensive chemotherapy, he intensively researched cancer treatment options that would be more beneficial and less debilitating. I am inspired by his story and I wish many people were so committed when taking care of their health. In any situation patients will have a better outcome when they do more than just fill a prescription and choose the least effective treatment. James Rhio O’Connor realized that and with his determination and optimism he worked with selected medical providers to develop a personal treatment plan that extended his life six more years than expected.

Isn’t the human body a miracle? It is so unique and complicated that the humankind is still unaware of the complete physiology of the human body. No one should ever give up just because someone told them there is no hope. Even though the body does degenerate and develop malignant cells, it will still attempt to heal and protect itself whether we know it or not. We still don’t know the best cancer treatment or best prevention plan; every day brings something new. Therefore, if I was a cancer patient I wouldn’t take anyone’s word as final. We are all human and we cannot possibly know everything. Every individual is different, thus the best suitable treatment could be determined jointly between different medical specialists and the patient. I have learned that it never hurts to get more than one doctor’s opinion; especially if it is regarding my life expectancy with cancer treatment, which gives no guarantees. I really feel that optimism is the first most effective dose of treatment because with hope and determination I would believe I could find many ways to help me beat the cancer time clock. I would most definitely try alternative treatment for mesothelioma due to the extreme side effects and the little effectiveness that chemotherapy offers to mesothelioma patients. It doesn’t mean that other treatments aren’t as effective, just because they aren’t popular. The life expectancy for cancer patients is what it is because we don’t know everything. Every health care provider is just a human and can’t possibly know every research study done in the world of medicine. I love life too much to depend on it to only one person. I would listen to survivors’, friends’ and nurses’ suggestions. I would be the patient who would be inspired by James Rhio O’Connor’s story. His passion for life is captivating and his optimistic approach to a devastating prognosis is fascinating. I would most definitely explore the option for trying treatments offered by research teams in medical schools and hospitals.

I see myself choosing the path Mr. O’Connor did. I am sure deadly cancer would not kill my optimism and faith if I was facing the same challenges. I know it would be devastating to find out that you have only a year to live, but I hope the challenge itself to beat the cancer time clock would inspire me to do everything possible to slow it down. If surgery wasn’t an option I would thoroughly research my options before I started chemotherapy because of the extreme side effects and little effectiveness for mesothelioma treatment. I would carefully research a balanced, personalized and well planned alternative treatment, biological therapy or immunotherapy. Chemotherapy kills malignant cells as well as healthy cells which just makes that cancer time clock to tick faster. I would inquire about the immunotherapy, it seems only logical to “give a hand” (boost) to your own immune system which will try to help you fight the cancer. I strongly believe that a well balanced diet along with natural supplements play a big role in building a body’s immune system. After reading about biological therapies, anti-angiogenesis seems to spark an interest because it targets the tumor blood supply and slows down the cancer time clock. I would make choices for treatment after consulting with different specialists, research hospitals, survivors and family and constantly researching new information online. I definitely would not stop with one man’s promise. The internet opens endless opportunities to find people who have been through phases that I would be approaching. It opens a door for an optimist to find someone like James Rhio O’Connor who not only fought his own battle but also inspired other cancer patients to believe that the last progress note for a patient’s prognosis is not a final word for their life.

By: Doyle, Indre

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