Five months. Five months is what they told me. Five months is the amount of time that I have left on this earth until mesothelioma takes my life. This was the grim outlook on life that I was given by my doctor several weeks ago.* Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops in the protective lining that covers the internal organs of the human body (Cancer Monthly). After several weeks of depression and realization, I have decided to make the best of the time that I have left by researching alternative methods for prolonging my life, just like James “Rhio” O’Connor did, and make sure that I live each day to the fullest.
James “Rhio” O’Connor was an inspiration to me at this point in my life in the way that he beat the odds by living 7 ½ years longer than expected. The doctors had diagnosed him with pleural mesothelioma caused by asbestos and gave him less than a year to live. He was unable to do the traditional chemotherapy or surgery, so he decided to take it upon himself to investigate other avenues of treatment to lengthen his life. After extensive research and finding his own methods of treatment, he was able to beat the less than a year estimate of survival (Cancer Monthly). I plan to obtain a copy of Mr. O’Connor’s book, They Said Months, I Chose Years: A Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story, in order to take a deeper look at his treatment plans and how he overcame this horrible obstacle. Knowing that he did makes me think that I actually have a chance at the same outcome.
First and foremost, I have decided to take the doctor recommendations of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery if all these options are available to me. Once these options are exhausted and I have shown no substantial signs of progress, I will then look into alternative methods such as vitamins and other supplements. I will research methods, therapies, and any other form of treatment that comes about during this process. I will speak to people with the same cancer that I have in order to gain their thoughts and ideas about where we can all go from here. I have the ambition to set up support groups, where other mesothelioma patients and I can get together and talk about treatment, ideas, or just be there for one another. During my fight for my life, I want to make an impact on others to give them the hope and inspiration that James “Rhio” O’Connor gave me. I am also planning on speaking with researchers and clinicians who know of other forms of treatment that are available to me so that I am given every option possible. Exploring my options is something that I would have never thought of before, until reading about James “Rhio” O’Connor. After reading his tribute, it inspired me to go beyond the traditional ways of the world and take my life into my own hands. After receiving this dire news, it would be extremely easy to take it at face value and believe that you have a certain amount of time to live, and that’s final; no exceptions. Knowing that there are people out there who are surviving with mesothelioma makes the light at the end of the tunnel seem not so dark and alone. Recognizing that there are options available and knowing how to utilize those options is very important and something that James “Rhio” O’Conner has proven.
When I leave this earth, I want to be remembered by the joyful moments, not the sad moments of cancer and treatment. In order to do this, I have made it my goal to live each day as if it were my last. I want people to remember me by my caring, fun loving spirit, not just a sad story of a girl who died too young. I always thought about death and thought that I should make a list of things that I want to accomplish before I die. Upon leaving this earth, I used to think that I would love to have some of those dreams checked off my list. Knowing that your life could soon be over puts a different perspective on the world. Those things on my list seem less important as the days go by, and time with family and friends stays steadily at number one. Although, despite the situation, I have found time to make sure that each day is the best that it absolutely can be, since I don’t have a promise of tomorrow. However, I do have a promise to myself to research my options and make my life memorable, and to me, that’s enough.
In taking the steps outlined above and using every possible outlet of knowledge that I can discover, I am hopeful that I will be able to outlive my doctor’s approximation of how much time I have left. If it turns out that I can’t be a miracle like James “Rhio” O’Connor, then I know that I did everything that I possibly could in order to stay alive for as long as possible. I know that when I take my last breath, it will all be worth it and that I will be remembered by my desire to live and aspiration to help others through this same difficult process, just like the inspirational James “Rhio” O’Connor.
Cancer Monthly. Surviving Mesothelioma. 2005-2009. 23 Feb. 2010.
By: Meritt, Nicole