Esson, Kaitlin Colleen – Surviving Mesothelioma

Esson, Kaitlin Colleen

Rhio O’Connor’s story is a particularly moving one for me because my grandfather passed away from a form of lung cancer after being diagnosed only a month previously. For my grandfather, there was not enough time to find a way to help him due to the fast progression of the cancer. Rhio O’Connor did not allow the cancer to progress to such a point that he could not take any actions to prolong the little time he had left, which is moving and inspiring, not only for cancer survivors, but also for the families of anyone who has been touched by cancer. Mesothelioma is a particularly dangerous cancer which infects the lining of the internal body cavity, called the mesothelium. My grandfather may not have had time, but should the day come where I discover I do not have much longer to live due to any form of cancer or other malignant disease, I think I would take a different course of action.

Rhio O’Connor researched forms of accepted medical treatments to develop his own and talk to doctors to ask the right questions about how to proceed. I would also investigate different forms of treatment, but I would not limit myself to traditional western medications. Europe is known to take some more progressive actions against degenerative diseases such as cancer; therefore, I think my first step would be to investigate the experimental treatments possible in Europe and not just limit myself to forms of medication that the United States could offer. This course of action would serve two purposes for me. The first is that it would open up several new avenues for treatment worth investigating which could potentially have great health benefits; the second is that I have always wanted to see Europe. Even if none of the treatments worked or if I did not qualify for any of them, I will have gotten to see Europe and I can scratch it off of my list of things to accomplish in my life. I would base my decision for a treatment on scientific papers, personal contacts, and the general theories behind such treatments. I also would not stop at Europe. If China, Australia, New Zealand, anywhere in Africa, et cetera had something to offer me I would travel there to obtain it.

I am lucky enough in my life to be surrounded by strong, independent, opinionated, and intelligent people, many of whom have some experience in the medical field. Most of the people on my dad’s side of the family are either nurses or pursued some other form of career in the medical field. This would be fortunate for me in that I would have many people who could give me their professional opinion of what would be another good step to take. My dad as a clinical psychologist could also help me to cope with the idea that, regardless of the steps I might take, I still would not have much longer to live. By learning early on to accept this idea, my research would be more effective because it would enable me to think more clearly about my options without the cloud of fear and desperation around my actions. Finally, my mom as a lawyer is accustomed to reading legal documents with legal jargon riddling the papers. This would prove beneficial in deciphering insurance, medical documents, and any documents which I might have trouble deciphering.

My mom’s background in law would also prove beneficial in my next step. Cancers are either inherited or contracted due to environmental stressors on the human body. My next step after investigating avenues for myself would be to investigate preventative measures against the particular form of cancer, such as diet, exercise, and other homeopathic possibilities for the prevention of the cancer. I would also investigate the possible environmental factors which could have resulted in my particular form of cancer. I would then take all of the information I collected and design a prevention program, firstly for my brother and two sisters and secondly for a wider program for the general education about my particular form of cancer and how others could limit their possibility of affliction. My mom would then be able to help me design the program and determine the best target audience based on the type of cancer. At this moment I would design a program targeted at college or graduate students because they are young enough to have time to still impact their future by changing their lifestyles, but also old enough to understand that cancer is not simply a distant possibility. By organizing this program, regardless of my own personal outcome, I could ensure the education of future generations to take every opportunity to avoid my future and to avoid having to make the difficult decisions I would have to make.

Finally, after taking every step I possibly could towards advancing my life span and those of others, I would look inward. I would take a day or two to evaluate my life and to determine if there was anything else I truly wanted to accomplish before I died. In my experience, most people have a list of things they would like to accomplish in their lifetime and this would be a good time to evaluate which of those goals were truly important enough for me to spend my precious few days acting upon. I would spend time with my family and ensure that they were healthy and as happy as possible under the circumstances. Then, I would ask for a trip to the beach. By this I mean, I would take any steps necessary to maintain happiness because life is short and any steps toward happiness should be taken while they are still possible. I love the beach more than any other place in the world and I know that I would want to visit a beach. My advice for everyone else would be to take similar steps toward their own happiness, and not just when they have been told they will not live for much longer.

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