Lerman, Melanie – Surviving Mesothelioma

Lerman, Melanie

Life has been given to each and every one of us to experience love, happiness, pain, sadness, and eventually experience death. We all know that one day death will come and the only thing left for us to do is enjoy life as much as possible until that day comes. We all face obstacles and struggles each day that we must learn to overcome and become stronger. For example, Mr. O’ Connor was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer, yet that didn’t stop him. He knew that surrendering would be way too easy and wanted the ultimate victory which was to postpone his death. He strived to find a cure and eventually his hard work and dedication prolonged his life.

His story has motivated many cancer suffering patients to never lose hope. According to the American Cancer Society about 1,479,350 people are diagnosed with cancer every year, 3,000 of them being for mesothelioma in the United States only. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, usually caused by asbestos exposure that affects mesothelial cells and membranes that line certain organs such as the lungs, heart, and abdomen. When Mr. O’Connor was diagnosed with mesothelioma he was sixty-one years old, and while physicians only expected for him to live one more year, through his dedication and strong will he was able to live for seven more years. Mr. O’Connor even wrote a book, “They Said Months, I Chose Years: A Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story,” where he relates his experiences and decisions while he was battling with “Mr. Meso” as he would call his cancer. The life of Mr. O’Connor is a clear example of a person willing to enjoy and experience life despite of the constant struggles and obstacles the cancer presented. Battling through an everyday struggle is no easy task; imagine what Mr. O’ Connor felt as he went through chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatments that increasingly weaken your immune system, and consequently your body. The inspiration and hope Mr. O’Connor conveys through his story as he battled cancer is not a lesson to be learned, but it is something to live by. The strength and determination Mr. O’ Connor portrayed throughout his disease, illustrates how we must live life each day. Fighting to strive happiness each day, despite whatever obstacle may come our way, was Mr. O’ Connor’s way of living.

If given a cancer prognosis, my first step would be to accept my disease and not hold any grudges towards life or any higher being. I would be determined to fight the disease until the end, and not give up at any instance. If chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery weren’t viable treatment for my disease, I would consider traditional chinese medicine, such as acupuncture, as an alternative treatment for my cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute acupuncture is said to treat many illnesses and ailments; however, it is mainly used to control pain, including cancer pain. By introducing acupunture as a treatment for my cancer I would be the means of trying to find a different pathway in controlling the pain that comes associated with cancer. Along with acupuncture I would also consider osteopathic medicine practices that may prolong my life. Osteopathic medicine focuses on helping the patient achieve a high level of wellness by offering hands-on diagnosis and treatment using a therapy called osteopathic manipulative medicine. Furthermore, scientific research would play an important role in determining my treatment protocol. Visiting clinics and hospitals that treat similar cancers as mine, talking to physicians, and reading scientific literature that pertains to my disease would be critical throughout this process. The decision-making process towards the treatment of my disease would consist all of the previously mentioned factors, along with the support of my family, friends, and religion. Moreover, as Mr. O’Connor taught us, the battle against cancer or any other obstacle not only involves the interaction with your peers and other people, but the desire to live, fight, and enjoy life and its forthcomings. As Alexander Graham Bell stated, “When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”

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