Mr. O’Connor must have had to reach deep inside of himself to move forward in the face of overwhelming medical fears of the “C” word. Perhaps it was his family that gave him the encouragement to face this adversity as he did, or the confidence to face it as an active participant, but I would hope to have his courage if I faced the same medical prognosis.
I would follow Mr. O’Connor’s search to self-educate himself on what he was facing. The internet has a wealth of information and links to groups who could provide definitions and alternative health information., especially cancermonthly.com. Because I am Native American, I would talk with my own medicine people and ask for their advice and prayers as I walked this journey.
Then, I would start researching what I needed to do to take care of myself during this period of illness. I would also read everything I could find about medical treatment available including alternative medicine options. Then, after speaking to those physicians and medical people whom I felt would honor my approach, I would embark on a plan of recovery.
When my grandmother was 95 years old, she underwent a very traumatic experience which brought her much stress and breast cancer. I pushed her wheelchair to one of her appointments at the University of Michigan Hospital and I learned through her positive spirit, faith in a higher power and will to live that one has to be strong to become cured of a serious health inbalance. She survived her cancer, it never mestastized and she is now 101 and living independently.
I hope that Mr. O’Connor’s example has encouraged clinicians not to be afraid to answer hard questions so that their patients can make informed consent. I think, armed with a positive attitude to achieve healing, prayer and informed consent, patients may help doctors be more willing to help define the path they must have a role in creating, rather than just having something happen to them.