Change Has Never Felt Better

For the past two years, my family and I have been forced to deal with cancer and its life-shattering effects. My father was diagnosed with malignant melanoma on my 16th birthday, May 7, 2007. Watching my father make desperate attempts to continue his life nearly ruined mine. While most 16 year olds were getting their licenses and learning how to deal with their parents, I had to take care of mine. Doctors told my father that they had rid him of his cancer, but he was then sent back to the hospital for his check-up only to discover it had come back in an aggressive and life-threatening manner. This diagnosis was made once again on my birthday, but the news only got worse with time. His cancer had spread to five organs and did not appear to be moving at a slow rate. He went through three forms of chemotherapy that made no change so he decided to try nutritional therapy. His cancer had progressed to the point where the tumors were now visible from the outside and his decision to try a holistic approach was in a last attempt to survive. Melanoma took his life on November 6, 2009.

Rhio O’Connor was diagnosed was mesothelioma and given a prognosis which most would find daunting; one year left to live. Mesothelioma is seen as a highly dangerous and deadly cancer that affects the thin layer of cells that line the body’s internal organs. Once discovered, this cancer is known to quickly take over the body and become terminal. Rhio O’Connor did not think twice about looking for research and learning which method of treatment was right for him. This admirable quality in him is what added 6 amazing years to his life and is what inspires many people today.

Based on my experience with cancer, and stories similar to Rhio O’Connor’s, I now live my life to the fullest. My days are filled with meaningful moments and time spent with the ones I love. I do not have a single doubt that I would decline chemotherapy; the holistic forms of therapy appear more promising. After continually seeing that chemotherapy was not working for my father, my family decided to research holistic treatments. With the use of the body’s natural disease fighting capabilities, a holistic approach to cancer is a method of aiding the body in reaching its optimum physical and mental health.

Following Rhio O’Connor’s footsteps and researching the various forms of treatments and outcomes is the approach I would also take. This is the only way one can make an informed choice that will definitely differ from person to person. Discussing different options of one’s cancer with loved ones, other patients and trusted professionals is an intelligent and helpful way to discover what the individual wants. Going with one’s own true feelings about the quality of life and the direction they want to go is the only way to deal with their cancer. When it comes down to the decision-making time, it is totally and completely up to the individual who carries the disease and what they would prefer.

Before entering college, I had big plans on getting into a nursing program and making a ton of money after college. I had no heart in nursing; just put blinders on with my focus set on living a “good” life filled with nice things and an expensive lifestyle. I had the opportunity to have an eye-opening conversation with my father where he told me not to set my focus on luxuries and find out what I enjoy in life. He created a picture when he told me the one thing he learned after discovering he had cancer was to live doing the things we love and to never be afraid of going after a career I actually enjoy. It is now my second semester, and after my father’s death I see so much more to life than living with no passion. I have discovered what it means to truly love what you do and live a life of happiness without the selfish desires linked with money. My major is now set on theatre arts with a focus on acting and my dreams have never been bigger. Regardless of the numbers on my paycheck, I see no wrong with having a career I love; change has never felt better.

By: Holt, Jordyn

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