Rhio O’Connor was a cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer. For more information about this type of cancer go to www.survivingmesothelioma.com. He used many avenues to make decisions about his treatment. Rhio worked tirelessly to acquire additional information about mesothelioma. He is an inspiration to me; in that, he worked on behalf of himself and was able to live through his experience. The personal efforts he took to acquire more information about cancer are definitely worth the additional six years he lived.
I was diagnosed with brain cancer in October of 2007. I am Teresa Doyle and I am a brain cancer survivor. I say “I”; however, there were many individuals who helped my family and I work through this horrifying diagnosis. When I read through all the actions Rhio had taken, I became excited. The efforts he used were similar to the ones my husband and I used. Rhios’ actions were an affirmation to me that my husband and I had done as much as we could do to acquire our information. We were on the right track! My husband told me, while I was still in the hospital he came home and began searching for any information he could find about brain cancer. He searched the internet and told me “I must have read three books worth of information the night you were diagnosed!”
We relied a lot on those persons with knowledge about this disease including doctors, nurses, clinicians, and friends who were cancer survivors themselves. We didn’t always understand the doctor’s information. They would often use medical terminology like “stage two astrocytoma”, “stealth MRI”, and “brain biopsy”. All we could do was look at them in a daze, so we continued to be dogmatic about acquiring more information from them and others. We would come home and look for any information on the internet that would further clarify what we had been told. I am a visual learner, so we often found pictures to explain what the doctors were telling us.
After we clarified all the information in our minds, my husband and I discussed what treatment we thought would be best. We considered the possibility of going to a Cancer Treatment Center of America. Information we received told us that these types of centers use a more holistic approach when treating cancer. There was not a treatment center close enough to where we resided so we decided to seek treatment at our local cancer treatment center.
We asked many questions about radiation treatment, chemotherapy, and whether these treatments would benefit my particular diagnosis. We learned that radiation could only be done once in any particular area; the same with chemotherapy. We played out some different scenarios in our minds. What if radiation did not work, what would be our options then? On and on we went and finally decided on radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy was a grueling process. Everyday of the week, except Saturday and Sunday, I received radiation treatments. Because the cancer was in my brain, it was necessary for me to wear a very confining mesh mask so my head could not move. Many days I felt totally helpless as I could hear the machine turning to each spot that needed to be radiated. There were a total of nine areas. I did anything I could do to take my mind off of what was happening. I counted the time between each spot while the machine continued to move on to the next area. I tried to relax and think about my children and my husband. I used relaxation techniques like breathing (inhale deeply/exhale slowly). Most importantly, I prayed to God. Each behavior made it possible for me to withstand two months of continuous treatment.
Rhios’ “optimistic spirit [and] belief in something greater than himself…” was an additional affirmation for me. I knew I was relying on someone other than myself for the strength and power to successfully survive my cancer treatment.
I must give the majority of the credit for my survival to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! I drew strength from Him on a daily basis. When I could not understand why this was happening to me, I would cry out to Him for the courage to continue on in my journey. I was optimistic as much as possible and when I wasn’t I sought out people to pray with me! I would go to my husband and he would console me as best he could. Remember, my family was experiencing this ordeal right along with me. Many people prayed for us; many that we did not even know!
They may never realize that their prayers to the Lord were powerful!
I will conclude this essay with the exciting news that I am completely cancer free! I continue to see my doctors on a regular basis. Though I would never want to go through this again, I realize that all of the actions my husband and I performed would be helpful to fight any additional cancer attack. As Rhio O’Connor survived six more years, I have survived two and ½ years and am grateful for each day I am given. My family is too!
By: Doyle, Teresa