James O’ Connor was diagnosed with a rare cancer called mesothelioma at the age of 61. After receiving the news that he would have only one year to live, he decided to keep an open mind and find options available for treatment. Mr. Connor did not think about what he should or would have done to try and prevent his cancer. He immediately started conducting research, consulting physicians, and other patients to find out how to improve the quality of life he had left. I admire Mr. Connor for his attitude and motivation toward his diagnosis and the strength he had to keep on living.
James O’ Connor began conducting research about mesothelioma and what options were available to slow the progression of his cancer. He spoke to physicians, specialists, and other patients for their advice. Mr. Connor did not want to try radiation, surgery, or chemotherapy because all those options harm the body. He chose to work with an alternative clinician to inform him of what supplements, herbs, and foods would improve his immune system. He believed that eating healthy foods would allow his body to slow the progression of mesothelioma and maintain his health. Mr. Connor was determined to find his own plan of care and what he could do to benefit himself. His book titled, “They Said Months, I Chose Years. A Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story” tells of his journey and encourages people with mesothelioma to take charge of their lives. It also talks about the information he found during his research, what decisions he made, and his determination to keep fighting. The choices that Mr. Connor made about his care added more than seven years to his life because he chose to find alternative ways to slow the progression of his cancer. His story should inspire everyone who reads it to make their own decisions and that it is possible to add years to your life.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer located in the mesothelium of the body’s organs. The risk factors for this type of cancer are direct exposure and living with family members who have worked in asbestos. There are studies that show this cancer occurs more often in men than women; however, any age group can have this condition. There are 2,000 cases of mesothelioma in the United States every year. The signs and symptoms of mesothelioma vary depending on its location in the body. Mesothelioma can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, weight loss, abdominal pain and swelling, bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, and anemia. If mesothelioma spreads to other parts of the body, a person might experience pain, trouble swallowing, and swelling of the face and neck. The larynx and kidney’s are usually the target organs of mesothelioma and other cancers that spread throughout the body. There are several ways to determine if someone has mesothelioma. First, a physician assesses the medical history, family history, asbestos exposure, and performs a physical exam on the patient. Then, x-rays, CAT scans, and MRI’s are performed to find where the cancer is located. If there are areas that are possible cancer cells, a biopsy of tissue is obtained. The cells are viewed under a microscope and then the physician determines the stage and type of cancer. There are several treatment options available for this type of cancer. The treatment used depends on the location and stage of cancer, as well as the age and general health of the patient. The options that are available include: surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Mesothelioma is a difficult cancer to treat because of the damage done to the body over time, and the inability to kill all of the cancer cells.
If I were diagnosed with Mesothelioma, I would feel depressed, sad, and worried about how long I would survive. After dealing with the shock of having this type of incurable cancer, I would start to consider how I would want to spend the last year of my life. I would start searching for the best oncology specialist to get some advice on mesothelioma. After choosing an oncologist, I would find out in their experience what has helped patients with the same type of cancer. I would also want to know what my limitations would be to keep my condition from getting worse. Mr. Connor turned to an alternative clinician which I feel was a great idea. When you have only one year left to live, I think it is important to help your body by diet, exercise, and supplements to improve your immune system. I truly believe that the research from cancer patients and their plan of care allow doctors to see what methods work best. This would allow them to suggest other options for treatment to future cancer patients. I believe that researching books, internet, and cancer associations are the best sources of information. Researching your medical condition to form a plan of care is a great idea for those for who do not want to use chemotherapy or radiation. If I were diagnosed with mesothelioma I would do exactly what Mr. Connor did with the exception that I would try either radiation or chemotherapy. I would base my decision on what stage my cancer was in and where it is in my body. I also believe in participating in clinical trials. I understand Mr. Connor’s philosophy toward mesothelioma. If I were diagnosed with cancer I would use the same approach that he did to try and find a way to slow its progression.
In conclusion, James O’ Connors story is a perfect example of the attitude that all people should have when your health starts to decline. Although it is unknown what causes some types of cancers, mesothelioma could have possibly been prevented if Mr. Connor was not exposed to asbestos. His determination toward cancer and his plan of care to slow its progression is so inspiring. I believe it is important to do whatever you can on your own to improve your life. Although Mr. Connor was only given one year to live, he took his life into his own hands and used his research to add years to his life. “They Said Months, I Chose Years. A Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story” can inspire others who have cancer to take charge of their lives and find out what methods of treatment is best for them. I believe that all the research that Mr. Connor found will allow physicians to do further studies and get closer to finding a cure.
For more information visit: https://survivingmesothelioma.com
By: Fox, Lora B.