Jacobs, Alyssa Montierth – Surviving Mesothelioma

Jacobs, Alyssa Montierth

Rooted deeply in human nature is the fighting desire to survive. Many religions, including Christians, Jews, and Muslims, believe that God gave man freedom of the will for a purpose: the purpose to choose how to live his or her life. Every day, a person faces challenges and decisions, however, not usually to the extent of terminal cancer. Nevertheless, lessons can be learned on small scale how one would react on a much larger one potentially in the future.

Since infancy, I have had problems with my ears and hearing. Some of my earliest memories are from the pain of infection and unintelligibility which comes from hearing loss. Although my situation required many years of antibiotics and other treatments, I am at a stand-still as far as my progress and damage has already been done. Four years ago, my doctor gave me some advice which changed my life. He told me that he had done as much as modern medicine had to offer and that I was at a point in my life where I needed to become the healer. Through positive psychology and believing that I could get better, I would be able to find ways to improve my situation.

When I received this news, I was not sure what to do or what to think. Most of my insecurities came from my lack of knowledge. Doctors use jargon which I did not understand and I started to lose hope. I researched online solutions which could possibly help, but I found only three articles, which I barely understood. This was the catalyst for my decision of academic coursework as I decided to enter a field of study which emphasizes hearing and the disorders which accompany. Bringing to my student body a driving desire and a passion for understanding different pathologies, I was offered an internship 2 years before the expected time. This experience put me in a situation where I could help those who suffered much more severely than I, and where I was able to empathize on a deeper level than most could.

Now I am employed in an assistantship where I have daily contact with students learning about the anatomy and physiology of the ear. Over the past few months, I have been researching and writing a paper for publication in a student academic journal with the intent to raise awareness and understanding of my condition for those who are still learning about different functions of the ear and hearing. It is my hope to give a source of hope and encouragement at a level which can be understood by a general audience, since I did not have one at the time of my diagnosis.

Although I am not fully cured from my disability, I have learned preventative measures which either accelerate or hinder my progress. I would not be in my current situation if I did not have access to the doctors I have seen, the classes I have taken, the professors I have worked with, and the articles which I have been given access to in my undergraduate study. I have lived my life using my free will to accept what I have been given, learned to be a fighter, and I have used my disability as a consuming force for good, instead of negatively with self-pity.

In reading Rhio O’Connor’s story, I can relate on many levels. He is proactive in his life and learning about his condition. I know that if I were diagnosed with terminal cancer, I would act the way I have my whole life and that I, too, would learn all that I could about my disease. Teaming up with my doctors, I would actively learn, continue to fight, and believe in a higher purpose.

Even if I went through cancer and suffering, I believe that a higher power allows us to become an influence in the lives of others. Just how I am working to raise awareness and conduct research in my area of interest and disability, I would consume my life with cancer study and work cohesively with a cancer team so that I could be a contributing force in my treatment. I would look beyond chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery if they had little to offer, because there is so much more found in the power of the mind, and intelligent minds working together.

Like I have in the past, I would conduct my research using peer reviewed articles in scholarly journals where the latest research is discussed. I have access to more resources in a university setting and would use my cancer to help others and find a cure. Taking my knowledge to my doctor, we would work out a treatment plan that might not be conventional. Similar to the problem with my ears, I would find daily activities which would ease my pain with the disease. The power of the will would be my driving force.

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