Courage, Determination And Resilience

Losing my mother to cancer was a lingering threat I dealt with during my adolescence. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of thirty seven and I, an eight year old child, was not aware of the excruciating and draining battle my mother fought for three years. I noticed my mother’s health deteriorating and the amount of time she spent with me everyday seemed to decrease, until she was permanently moved to a hospital. Every Friday my uncle would pick me up from school and take me to visit my mother. Though, I was excited to see my mother I gained a disdain for hospitals and began to fear the sickness that destroyed my mother’s health. On Friday, September 13, 2002 my uncle didn’t show up to drive me to see my mother. As I waited in the parking lot, sitting beneath the shade of an oak tree, I knew the fear of losing my mom had become a reality. I sat alone watching the sunset; I thought as long as I sat there I wouldn’t have to acknowledge my fears. As I observed the sky change from a tranquil blue to a blood shot red; I felt the weight of my uncle’s hand on my knee. A cascade of tears erupted from my eyes and the burden I hid behind a carefree façade was shattered. The heaviness buried within me was a byproduct of the pain and turmoil I didn’t express for three years. My uncle held me as I cried and reassured the endless love and admiration I had for my mother.

Cancer is a disease that plagues the lives of millions. Caner does not discriminate or hold sympathy for any of its victims nor does it impede on its creed to obliterate the human body. Those who live with cancer do not have the luxury of losing hope and faith within themselves. Rhio O’Connor exemplifies the determination and resilience eminent in numerous cancer patients. His vigor and fortitude in the face of immediate doom illustrates the vivacious spirit that resides within the feeble bodies of numerous victims of cancer. Although O’Conner was told that he had, merely, a year to live and would ultimately die from pleural mesothelioma he did not relinquish his fight against cancer. Instead, O’Conner began a journey of self discovery and relied on natural alternatives. O’Conner understood that the battle against cancer is not merely a physical one, but a crucible that strains your spirit and alters your state of mind. As such, O’Conner experimented with methods of healing that focused on gaining a broader sense of self and practiced healing methods akin to meditation to reach spiritual excellence. Because, of O’Conner’s enduring courage he lived for seven and a half years longer than expected. O’Conner is a beacon of hope for cancer patients who are told they cannot triumph over cancer. O’Conner proved that by dedicating one’s self to spiritual well being and physical excellence they can overcome cancer instead of remaining its victim.

Fighting cancer is not a simple task, but one that requires courage, determination and resilience. In addition to medical resources, I believe the greatest weapon against cancer is hope. Although simple, reframing from falling victim to cancers dreariness is a difficult endeavor; because you have to remain optimistic even in the bleakest periods of your treatment. Laughing and enjoying time with family members would uplift my spirit, thus increasing the endorphins in my body and boosting my immune system. Many people do not understand the amount of importance your frame of mind has on the success of your treatment. In addition to aiding your treatment, a high spirit would ease the people around you and make them more willing to visit and enjoy time with you. During my hospital visits to my mother, I learned that one’s environment reflects their mood. By emphasizing the importance of remaining optimistic, through your battle with cancer, many patients will find it easier to go through such an ordeal with the support of their family and friends.

O’Conner’s approach to persevering over cancer was extraordinary because he relied on alternative medicines, instead of western prognosis. I believe that O’Conner’s most admirable feat was avoiding chemo-therapy. My mother was advised to go through chemo-therapy; at this time most doctors advocated for the use of chemo-therapy believing it produced more good than harm. However after undergoing intense chemo-therapy treatment and multiple surgeries, while restrained to a hospital bed for over a year, my mother lost her fight with cancer. I believe the distance between my mother and her family took a toll on her spiritual wellbeing. My mother’s physical and mental health began to dwindle until she eventual collapsed into a coma. The biggest threat cancer patients’ face is misinformation that can ultimately cause them to be inclined to making irrational decisions about their health. Chemo-therapy is a rigorous procedure that does not guarantee a healthful outcome. In order to fully understand the types of treatments available to fight cancer, patients should be given a wide spectrum of choices. I believe that, if given the opportunity, many patients will try methods similar to O’Conner’s and hopefully triumph over their battle with cancer.

By: Hassan, Amal

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