Habermehl, Elizabeth

Outliving Your Expiration Date

Mesothelioma, a horrible cancerous disease, is generally diagnosed with a life expectancy of twelve months or fewer.  However, a great deal of research is currently being done to make this disease more treatable and there are several cases of patients long outliving their doctor’s prognosis.  Rhio O’Connor is one such example of a mesothelioma survivor.  His journey is an amazing success story that can teach everyone, especially cancer patients, how to deal with the hardships of life, even when success seems impossible.

The National Cancer Institute states that: “Malignant mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, is a disease in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the sac lining the chest (the pleura), the lining of the abdominal cavity (the peritoneum) or the lining around the heart (the pericardium).”  (mesotheliomaweb.org) This means that mesothelioma is a cancer that invades the mesothelium.  This is a double lining that surrounds the internal organs and allows them to expand and contract freely.   Mesothelioma generally is found around the heart, lungs, or abdominal organs and occurs when the cells of the mesothelium begin to divide uncontrollably.  This excessive growth puts pressure on the organ that is being invaded and may damage or invade the other organs around the cancer.  Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, a type of silicate mineral.  Mesothelioma does not generally appear until thirty to fifty years after exposure.  If caught early, the cancer may be treated with radiation, chemo- therapy, or surgery.  Alternate forms or treatment are also being explored, but no form of treatment has a high success rate, making this disease a very scary prospect.  (survivingmesothelioma.com)

Rhio O’Connor was diagnosed with mesothelioma and given twelve months to live.  Chemo, radiation and surgery offered no hope.  His doctor recommended that he take a vacation and then enter hospice care and try to enjoy the time he had left.  Instead, he did enormous amounts of research and met with many medical professionals to determine the best way to beat his cancer.  He began eating an extremely strict diet consisting of organic foods, fresh fish, and specially raised beef.  He took over one hundred supplements per day, spending over on thousand dollars a month on supplements.  He also engaged in mind-body medicine.  The result of this tremendous effort was seven years of life that “modern medicine” was unable to offer.  (O’Connor)

If I were to be diagnosed with a terminal illness I would follow Mr. O’Connor’s example.  I would read books, search the web and speak with specialists regarding my illness.  I am a firm believer in many types of alternative medicine, so I would research the benefits of treatments such as acupuncture, mind-body medicine and specialized nutrition as they applied to my health.  I would also consider the types of conventional treatment available.  I believe that melding together conventional and alternative medicine can lead to amazing recovery success.

Another major step that I would attempt to make in the occurrence of a dire diagnosis would be to surround myself with things and people that make me happy.  It has been shown in many studies that the mind has a great deal of control over what the body feels and does, and a negative mindset produces negative results.  It has also been demonstrated that laughter can greatly aid in healing.  This is not surprising; how can a mind that is miserable and depressed inspire the body that it controls to heal itself?  Positive thinking is key to healing and to many other aspects of life.  Many athletes will testify that mindset is a large part of the battle to become great. The story of Rhio O’Connor is a reminder of this, and can inspire people both ill and healthy to improve their lives by improving their thought process.

Another major factor that I rely on in my everyday life and would rely on more if I become gravely ill is faith.  I have seen a great amount of good come from God in my own life, and I have witnessed a healing comparable to Mr. O’Connor’s occur in the presence of God.  I knew a young man who was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer that has never been survived.  His doctors advised him, at the age of sixteen, to go home and enjoy his last few months of life.  He felt convinced that God had greater plans for him than an early death, so he insisted on going through chemotherapy against the doctor’s advice.  He was given enormous doses of the toxic drugs and spent months in the hospital.  His church held weekly prayer meetings in his honor and his pastor prayed over him regularly at the hospital.  Regardless, another tumor was found.  The church organized a special service and prayed over the tumor.  By the time that they left the hospital, the tumor was no longer visible and the doctors were astounded.  Today, the young man is completely cancer free and he gives all the glory to God.  This story shows that with God, all things are possible, and that is something that I would rely on greatly in the event of a negative diagnosis.

Modern medicine is wonderful and has saved many lives.  However, it is not the only form of medicine and in many cases may not be the best form.  Alternative medicine is showing more and more to be a legitimate form of treatment that, when specialized to the patient’s needs, can work wonders.  Nutrition also, is incredibly important when treating illnesses and in everyday life because it allows the body to work at maximum capacity.  I also feel that positive mental attitude and faith in God are important in life and in treating illnesses.  There are many inspiring examples of people beating their diagnosis, and the story of Rhio O’Connor is an excellent example.  It is incredibly important for people to know about the lives of people such as Mr. O’Connor so that they realize how much is possible even when all the odds point the other way. 

Sources
“Mesothelioma”.  Mesothelioma.  David Law Firm.  29 August, 2009.  

O’Connor, J.R.  They Said Months.  I Chose Years!  A Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story.  
Raleigh, North Carolina.  Cancer Monthly, Inc.  2008.

“Surviving Mesolthelioma: A Patient’s Guide”.  Cancer Monthly, Inc.  2009. 
<www.survivingmesothelioma.com>

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