Hill, Marissa M. | Surviving Mesothelioma

Hill, Marissa M.

Being diagnosed with cancer is a true moment of awakening in a person’s life. Thankfully, as time goes on and scientists continue to search for a cure, there are treatments on the horizon for patients who fall victim to terminal illnesses. As a person whose family has a history of both Testicular and Breast Cancer, I am no stranger to dealing with the struggles faced by both those who suffer from the illness and those who are affected. With the awareness that my odds of being diagnosed with cancer are high, I greatly admire Mr. James “Rhio” O’Connor and his lifestyle choices. If I am found to have cancer, I will use him, as well as the members of my family, as role models.

If I were diagnosed with cancer, I know that as much as I say that I would not be surprised, I would be. Having cancer is not something that people hope to have and despite advancements being made, it is still natural instinct for a person to think of death when they receive the news. In many cases, death is inevitable and it is only a certain amount of time, but not in all cases. The key to detecting and having a chance at fighting cancer is getting checked regularly and paying keen attention to your body. Noticing differences in yourself and going to the doctor when something unusual arises is extremely important in the detecting of cancer.

I am a firm believer in the fact that maintaining a optimistic attitude and a strong family support system is essential in making it through any dire prognosis. When my Father was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer, he chose not to tell anyone until a week prior to his surgery. This proved to have a large burden on him personally because he had to hold on to all of the worry and stress by himself. Although the family understood his reasoning for keeping it to himself, we believed that something that is of such importance and will affect so many lives should not be kept internalized. Upon finding out that I have cancer, I would have a gathering of my close family and friends and tell them and them only. I would want them to know so that I could have that strong foundation for a support group but I would not want to tell everyone because I would want to live life to its fullest and not to be pitied.

My personality is such that if someone tells me something, I will work my hardest to defy it. If a doctor gave me a timeline on my life due to a disease, I would do as much research and investigating as possible to learn about my prognosis. My hometown, Buffalo, NY, is home to Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), which is one of the top cancer treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1898 by Dr. Roswell Park, it is the only upstate New York facility to hold the National Cancer Center designation of “comprehensive cancer center” and to serve as a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. It is at RPCI where many people from across the country, including various members of my family, have been treated. They have set the standards in cancer care, research, and education extremely high and are renowned nationwide. I would make it a point to get into their hospital and get second and third opinions as well as learning more about the nature of the cancer that I had. Working with doctors at this level of expertise would be extremely beneficial in the process of living with cancer.

In addition to RPCI, there are numerous books and articles available to the public for research on cancer. Physicians are continuously studying different forms of the abnormal cells and making new discoveries. These discoveries are published in medical journals that, if compiled correctly, could hold the secret of the cure for cancer. I would read over these different medias as much as possible to educate myself about all aspects of the disorder that physicians frequently try to sugar coat. I would want to know the facts and be able to draw conclusions based upon my findings and to carry on educated conversations with those who were treating me.

Chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and surgery are the most common “cures” for cancer yet they all have serious side affects and risks. If I were diagnosed, I would explore all of the options presented to me, of which I am sure these would be included. I would evaluate each and try to decide which would be the best for me while evaluating the quality of my life post the procedures as opposed to going without. Knowing that I would eventually die, I would want to live the best life possible. I would need to know the statistics for the positive and negative results that could happen. I know that I would seek some form of treatment because I would catch the cancer early, meaning that I would most likely have a better chance at fighting the sickness. If new and more innovative treatments were available, I would look into them and see what they had to offer; knowing that my life was to be short regardless, I would evaluate the situation and weigh the pros and cons of my participation; if participating in the new treatment would give me a chance at a longer life and could help others learn more, I would definitely consider.

Bearing all of this information in mind, I would be a person who lived with cancer, not a person who let their cancer live through them. I would be well informed about my condition yet I would not let myself obsess over it and ultimately lose time worrying instead of enjoying every day that I had left. Mr. James “Rhio” O’Connor truly is a model example of this attitude; his positive outlook on life, despite the dark road that lie ahead, as well as his determination to overcome his cancer for as long as possible are inspirational. It is people like this who make the difference and through their outlook on life, not only increase their longevity, but encourage others to inspire theirs as well. When you are diagnosed with a terminal illness such as cancer, you must never give up on life, yet you must also accept your fate and live accordingly. Acknowledge your disease so that you can live to the fullest for as long as possible; from that point on it is not the quantity of days lived, but the quality. Ultimately, you are the only one who can affect that outcome.

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