Hannah, Analise – Surviving Mesothelioma

Hannah, Analise

What would be my reaction to a personal diagnosis of terminal cancer in my body?

This is such a difficult question for a teenager to answer. How can I make a judgment with so little experience to base it on? Despite my age, I know I would stand firm against following a course of medication and treatment. With today’s technology, there are so many options; I feel it would seem easy to choose one. I would scramble for each opportunity to kill the dreaded invader, clinging to life in the hope of a cure that would extend my time in this wonderful world.

Of course it’s always easier to say than actually do. It is easy to research the cancer, mesothilioma is rare, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there who have had it. For example, the site www.survivingmesothelioma.com tells the story of a man named Paul Kraus, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 1997. Although the odds of him living very long after the diagnosis were grim, Kraus did not give in. Through excessive research, he was able to find all of his options to prolong his life and by working extensively with his doctors, he was able to beat his cancer. The will to live is a very powerful thing. I would use this as power and motivation to help me plow through the different types of treatment. For those of us who have experienced any kind of cancer related problems, even if it was someone we cared about that was diagnosed, it is always different from people who have never had to deal with anything cancer related at all. Even so, as a person who has merely seen the destruction that a cancer diagnosis can cause to a family, the decision on my treatment would be a difficult one.

How can someone know what their answer would be unless they have faced the beast themselves? I feel this answer would lie in the heart of each person at the time they got the call. I’m pretty sure the answer isn’t in the brain; it has to arise from each person’s emotional center. So it boils down to these questions: How much time do I have left? And how will I face my end if I know its coming?

Somewhere in my intellectual gut I hear this question echo almost daily. When I see a news report of someone killed in a traffic accident I think: “I drive…” When I see ads for Cancer treatment centers an echo in my mind says: “What if…?” When my friend’s mom made the decision to NOT seek treatment I thought: “How would I…?”. But when she died, I didn’t think…I just wept.

Damn you for asking me to write this! Damn me for doing it. Am I prostituting my emotions for you? Or just coming to grips with my own eventual mortality-cancer related or not? Regardless, and after the emotion wanes I still have no answer. I can say that I would fight for my life as best I could but since I do not have the illness, all I can do is live my life as each day comes to me. Whether I give myself over to a plan for six weeks or six years all I can do is live the minutes as they arrive and give my heart to being HERE, in the present and being with people that I love.

Oh sure, I’ll make plans. I’ll plan next weeks biking trip and next year’s classes. I’ll plan to see Paris and I’ll plan to visit Beijing someday. Maybe I’ll plan to see my art on the television ten years from now, because planning is dreaming.

Should the call come for me and show that I only have a limited time, I hope I’ll plan and dream of having as much joy in my life as I can before it ends. However that may be.

And no matter how my end comes, what I will leave for the future will be the art that I love making, invested with my diligence, my heart and my intellect. And it is with this intellect, determination and optimistic outlook on life that would save me from dying a fate such as mesothelioma.

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