Known as an incurable cancer, mesothelioma is mostly caused by exposure to asbestos. Most patients with mesothelioma can be asymptomatic for up to 50 years. In the United States alone, there are 2,000 to 3,000 new cases reported each year. In addition, most cases of mesothelioma reported are linked occupationally to the patient. There is currently no cure for mesothelioma, but perhaps with more strong and steadfast people like Rhio O’Connor, we will someday find a cure for this devastating cancer and maybe others as well.
For as long as I can remember death was always a gloomy event to look forward to. Sure, I know what you’re thinking, of course death is gloomy. As I grew older and saw people around me, people I loved, fall one by one to hepatic (liver) cancer, heart attacks, or aneurysms, I realized how short-lived our time here on earth is. The first death I had ever experienced was my grandfather, I called him Pappy. He passed away when I was the age of nine. It did not effect me, whether we were at the hospital or the funeral home. I knew he was “still here” so there was no reason for me to cry, yet. It wasn’t until after his funeral mass that I realized he was never coming back. I would never see his toothless grin again or see him at Christmas with his long, white Santa-like beard. As the pallbearers went to attend to him and lead him down the aisle and out of the church, that was it, my breaking point had been reached. I was hysterical, crying like no nine year old had ever cried before. I’m not sure why I understood what was going on so well, but I knew he was never coming back and a flood, literally, of sadness washed over me and all those pent up feelings I had been trying to express for days on end had finally been released. It was cathartic. After that experience and as I grew older I felt shaken in my faith. Why would God take him when I was so young, and quite frankly so was he. It wasn’t until I was older I began to believe again with my whole heart and soul that God would take care of us. I always wondered why God would let such horrible things happen to such good hearted and decent people. He doesn’t do it to be spiteful, he does it because without suffering there can be no compassion. Every time something bad occurs in my life or to someone I love more than anything I think of that phrase and embrace, taking comfort that God will set everything right, in his own way. Although I may not agree with his decisions, I fervently accept them and continue on with my life.
Like any other human being diagnosed with an incurable cancer, like mesothelioma, I would have not taken it easy at first. I would go through all the stages, especially denial, but I would accept it just like Rhio O’Connor. I have always been a firm believer in clinical trials, and with an incurable cancer, what would I have to lose by trying it. Although the cancer could possibly take my life one day, I would love the idea knowing that my participation in a clinical trial may have made a difference in the life of another cancer patient and perhaps be able to extend the quality and quantity of their life here on earth, regardless of how short lived mine may have been. I would be thinking of the greater good. I am a steadfast believer that things happen for a reason, whether they are good or bad. God is not spiteful or vengeful, but merciful. I believe in God’s will and his desires for us because without suffering there can be no compassion.
I firmly believe in second opinions, as well as second chances. I would have discussed multiple treatment options with the top doctors in the oncology field. Although chemotherapy is known to work against cancer, sometimes, I would choose to forgo it as an acceptable treatment on myself. It weakens you and only does more harm than good, in my opinion. To kill the monster, one must be strong and powerful and unfortunately chemotherapy has too many adverse effects to think it as a good treatment for an already “incurable” cancer. In addition, I would talk to everyone and anyone who was willing to listen, but in the end the decision is mine and mine alone. When there is no hope left, faith is all you need and it is up to you to make the leap and if you do not believe you will surely fall. I believe in God that he would never let me fall, no matter the outcome of my earthly state.