Fox, Allison – Surviving Mesothelioma

Fox, Allison

Nobody wants to hear a timeline has been put on their life but it happens everyday to those suffering from cancer. In October 2001 James Rhio O’Connor was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, which was caused by prolonged contact with asbestos. Mesothelioma can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, wheezing, anemia, or even coughing up blood. Unfortunately the prognosis for those with Mesothelioma is not good. Although James had Mesothelioma, it wasn’t the type of cancer he had, that set him apart from many other cancer victims, it’s what he chose to do with is life after his diagnosis.

James was told after his diagnosis that he had about one year to live and that he should take that year to get this things in order and spend time with his family. He actually ended up doing his own research and, with the help of professionals, treated himself to outlive his prognosis by about 6.5 years. He finally lost his battle on July 11 2009.

If I ever have to go through the unfortunate conversation like James Rhio O’Connor did with his doctor, I know I would charge forward in the same manner. I truly hope that others feel the same way too. In reality what other option is there if you really value life?

One could take the advice of O’Connor’s Oncologist and try to enjoy the last year left on earth before the disease takes you with it. But could anyone really enjoy this time, knowing they were giving up with out a fight? If you were on the cruise with your significant other, could you really sit back and have a great time? Personally, knowing there is a deadly disease inside of me would eat away at my mind as the cancer was my body. I couldn’t just sit back in my lawn chair and enjoy the sun or ocean air without it being in the back of my mind. I would be miserable that last year knowing that I was doing nothing about it, which defeats the point of the trip and wastes precious time could have been used fighting.

When you are told you only have 12 months to live, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. In a way it may be like “crunch time” before an exam where the results are pass/fail, sink or swim. This is the point in ones life when they truly realize how to “live like you are dying,” because death could be right around the corner. It is the time where you fight to live, knowing that if you don’t, you have made the most of life, and knowing you did everything you could.

First I would go online and to the library to get information about my specific type of cancer. Then I would find every specialist for my condition that I possibly could. I would call all of them personally and would not give up until I had either talked with all of them by phone or in person. Hopefully these specialists would also be able to refer me to support groups and other patients diagnosed with my type of cancer.

I would look into drugs that were already on the market and those that were still in trials on humans, if there were any. I would also look into drugs that were being tested on animals. It could bring hope and maybe if they were successful they’d let me participate in the human study. When you are already dying with out a drug, the worry and risk of side effects isn’t too high.

I would most certainly be open to any type of treatment ideas these specialists had to offer me. Even if they were a shot in the dark, it would be worth it, because my participation could prolong not only my life but also help prolong the lives of others long after me.

After reading James’ story, I firmly believe that what we put into our body effects how our body runs and I for one am not going wait until I’m diagnosed with cancer to make changes to my lifestyle. James used the analogy of the type of gas you put into a car and how the car runs, which is a great way to look at how we fuel our bodies and mind. There have been many different studies about food related to mood and behaviors and I think this can be applied to nutrition and cancer as well. With all of the processing, insecticides, and hormones put into the things we take in, is bound to take its toll on the human body in some way.

With that being said, I would get into contact with a nutritionist and start monitoring every morsel and droplet that went into my mouth. I’d make sure I was eating natural and organic foods rich with antioxidants. These antioxidants can help repair cell damage and prevent the growth of mutated cells. I would make sure to incorporate supplements into my daily regimen, to make up for what wasn’t being taken in by food.

If any conventional therapy such as chemotherapy or radiation was an option, I would of course give it a try, but I would also still supplement it with nutrition. Unfortunately these options aren’t always available, due to the location of the tumors, like in James’ case.

What James Rhio O’Connor did was amazing and honorable, not to mention it gives hope to a new generation of people who feel they have simply run out of options. Cancer is a devastating disease that hopefully through research and nutrition, can be something everyone can live their lives without fearing. Hopefully after reading about his story, more people will feel inspired to take their health into their own hands, not take no for an answer, and outlive their diagnosed expiration date.

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