Kleczkowski, Matt – Surviving Mesothelioma

Kleczkowski, Matt

REFLECTION ON BEING DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER

Once I read Mr. O’Connor’s story of survival I thought, WOW!! What an amazing man. This here is a man, who despite what lied ahead of him, never gave up. He lived his life to the fullest and had an outstanding support system and an unbelievable faith in God. Now what would I do if I were in his shoes? My first reaction would be why me? What did I do to deserve this? What kind of God is out there that would put me and my family and friends through such a horrible experience. After going through the stage of denial and facing reality of a grim outcome, I would first seek out a strong support staff of family, friends and spiritual leaders. I would then find a way through research and prayer to beat this and have a quality of life worth living. Once talking to my support staff and medical professionals and reflective prayer we would make an educated decision on how to proceed with a course of treatment. The standard protocol is first diagnosis with a CAT scan or MRI scan. Once a diagnosis is determined, chemotherapy and radiation are the first options to shrink the tumor. Depending on the size and location of the tumor surgery is always an option. There is no 100% treatment for mesothelioma. From my research and personal medical experience in the military my personal opinion of mesothelioma and cancer in general is it just flat out sucks. The thought of seeing or hearing of a healthy person with an active lifestyle receive news that they have a life threatening illness and they are going to die. I can’t even imagine receiving news like that for myself or a loved one. To look at a healthy person and over time stand by and just watch as they deteriorate away to a frail bag of bones. It’s a sad situation and I don’t wish it on my worse enemies. I once sat with a man I didn’t even know during my military experience on the oncology ward because he was terminally ill due to his advanced stage of cancer. The twelve hours I sat with him watching him die I felt at first I was being punished. The hours leading up to his last breath I began to realize that here are these two men who are complete strangers who are spending the final moments of one man’s life together until the end. Watching him gasp for every breath and hearing his chest rattle. Looking at his skin and bones, so frail and thin, I felt like I would break him just from holding his hand or moistening his lips with a lemon swab. My new friend didn’t die on my watch that night however I did cry for him once I came off of my watch. Come to find out that night when I came back in to work he took his last breath shortly after I had left him that morning. In summarizing what I have read and what I have learned writing this paper. What would I do to have a quality of life with mesothelioma?

The answer is simple, leave no stone unturned just like what Mr. O’Connor did. There is a way to beat mesothelioma and cancer in general. It’s people like Mr. O’Connor who have a will to live and to help others. The drive to find cures or other treatments for such a tragic illness. If I am faced with such a decision I would like to know in my mind and in my heart that I would have the drive and fortitude to not only beat my cancer but maybe save a few lives along the way after I’m gone.

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