Holocher, Valerie – Surviving Mesothelioma

Holocher, Valerie

I will never forget that moment. I was seated by my best friend, who had been having stomach problems for a few weeks, when the doctor came in the room. He very frankly and as gently as he could, said these words, “You have inoperable cancer of the liver, and it will progress very quickly. You have, at best, 6 months to live.” My friend was a healthy 40 year old man; father of 3 beautiful children, his youngest just 4 years old. How could this be? My friend, I am sad to say did not beat the odds. His battle lasted only three months. But they were long and excruciating months for him and for his family.

My friend had liver cancer which, depending upon the stage, can be treated with surgery and/or chemotherapy. Because my friend had so many tumors (the doctor said his liver looked like Swiss cheese), his was inoperable. He tried chemotherapy to prolong his life, but it was very hard on his already weak system. He then found an herbalist, who gave him hope for a short time. The natural remedies prescribed helped him feel better, but the cancer had already done too much damage. The whole time my friend had a positive attitude. He had a saying,”Plan like you’re dying, but live like you’re not”. It was this philosophy that allowed him to keep a smile on his face through very rough times. All of us, who take our health for granted every day, should live with this attitude. We never know when we might die, so we should always be prepared. We should have our “affairs” in order to protect the ones we love and we should make time in our lives to love the ones we protect.

Another person that is an inspiration to me on this subject is James “Rhio” O’Connor. He received the news from his doctor that he had mesothelimoa, and only had a short time to live (1 year). He did beat the odds and lived for six years. Mr. O’Connor inspires me to seek knowledge. That is how he fought his battle. He spent timeless hours researching his diagnosis. Because he would not accept the timeline that was given to him, he extended his live for five extra years; five precious years that I am sure his family treasures to this day.

Mesthelimoa is cancer of the mesothelium, which is a protective coating for most of the body’s internal organs. It can attack these organs and surrounding tissue and/or even spread to other parts of the body. You can find out more about it at survivingmesothelioma.com. I love the name of this web-site. Notice the first word, “surviving”. That is the hope of all who receive the news of cancer. Surviving is what it is all about. This site has information on treatments, stories of survivors, and even legal advice.

The words that the doctor spoke to my friend are words that no one can prepare to hear. I sat right next to my friend, and I still can’t imagine what it would be like to hear those words for myself. However, being asked to imagine, I will try. I know that I would be devastated (needless to say). Knowing that it is necessary, I would allow myself to go through the grieving process. I would take time off from all the stress to enjoy my loved ones; maybe take a vacation to process the news together. Then I would put a smile on my face and roll up my sleeves and go to work. I would use the examples of these two men to help me fight my battle. I would use my friend’s philosophy of preparedness to help me maintain a positive attitude. I would use Mr. O’Connor’s example of using knowledge as power. I would seek a second opinion. I would learn everything I could about my type of cancer, its treatments, and new technologies. I would look into research studies. I would join a support group, and encourage my family to do the same. I would read testimonies from other survivors. I would take strength from others when my strength was lacking. And I would pray. I would pray for God’s will and peace for me and my family to accept whatever outcome was part of the plan.

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