Reflections Of A Life


My good friend developed breast cancer. Actually I believe it was termed “pre-cancer” from her biopsy. It was always unclear to me why some areas were deemed “cancerous” and yet other sites would be “pre-cancerous.” An explanation given was to think of an orange. How part of an orange can be ruined while the remaining part is good.

I accompanied my friend to some of her appointments whenever she asked me to. One appointment she was injected with a dye. She exited from her session with a gray cast to her skin. Another appointment she was asked to have blood drawn. Throughout these early medical sessions she remained optimistic.

Eventually she was put on numerous medications for pain management. One prescription was needed in triplicate proving to be a skill in obtaining. My friend who I had known many years was given one excuse after another by hospital staff as to why they could not operate. I was told that it was because of a rash she had that could lead to infection.

There was much hope in fighting this disease. She got an appointment with a leading breast cancer doctor only to be discouraged upon not being able to obtain the correct hospital insurance.

Time went on with more excuses from the hospital. My friend who was like a sister decided it would be good for both of us to call each other to vent freely our problems. This seemed like a good idea at the time. To unburden our problems lightening our emotional loads. This went on for sometime but her calls were becoming angry. The anger was not directed at me but I was listening to her messages feeling her pain.

I tried to be the supportive friend she deserved but I started snapping at her on the phone. This reaction was out of frustration with her medical situation not moving forward plus the added stress of my own personal relationship issues.

She left me a phone message one day saying I was not a good friend. I was permanently cut out of her life. A finalized end to our history of going on trips, dancing at clubs and having years of fun. This all came to an end with one phone call.

I never knew what happened to her. I hope she moved to the beautiful state she dreamed of. I was told to keep it a secret about her cancer. It has been several years of keeping silent.

If I developed cancer would I have the moral support needed to fight? My first thought would be of my daughter left without her mother. I would go the traditional route first of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. It would be a time of reflection about how I’ve lived my life. What have I always wanted to do but have for some reason not followed through. Now would be the time to mend relationships, visit relatives and not hold back anymore. I would read every piece of literature about herbal supplements and nutrition. A time to follow a healthy diet along with an exercise routine of perhaps walking for fitness.

Then I would begin a regimen of watching funny movies to keep myself positive. My daughter would be included in my activities since she always brings a smile to my face. Our daily routine would remain the same except for my medical treatments.

If I developed cancer, I would like to have emotional support from family and friends. I only pray my old friend will someday let me back into her life. My hope is that she is happy, pain free and enjoying life.

My friend was researching her illness by reading books from the library. She was becoming an informed patient. Another example of an informed cancer patient is a man named James “Rhio” O’Connor.” His cancer was different from my friend’s but he chose to seek assistance openly from many different sources.

Rhio developed pleural mesothelioma primarily caused by inhaling asbestos fibers presumably at work over an extended period of time. He outlived his original prognosis of one year to live by more than six years. His practice of speaking with doctors and patients about managing this illness aided in his health care regimen.

The appearance of symptoms most often do not show up for 20 to 30 years. This makes is difficult for treatment because the disease would be in advanced stages. Pleural mesothelioma symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath and chest pain.

An informative website for mesothelioma survivors can be located at Cancer Monthly’s website, This site has information regarding this type of cancer, diagnosis and treatment. The internet is an invaluable resource for information on cancer.

Rhio’s story inspires us to never give up no matter what anyone tells you. He became proactive in his own treatment defying the doctor’s grim diagnosis. His positive attitude encourages us all that we can seek out answers for ourselves with determination. His legacy will remain alive with the development of the scholarship contest in his name. He will provide hope for other pleural mesothelioma survivors that they can outlive their forecasted life expectancy.


“Pleural Mesothelioma – Your Mesothelioma Resource”

By: Gaunt, Ann

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