Mitcham, Paulina | Surviving Mesothelioma

Mitcham, Paulina

Suddenly, time on this earth is cut short. Rhio O’Conner’s struggles and accomplishments with what little time given, is inspiring to any person with or without cancer. His strength to fight all the way to the end is amazing. Like myself and many others who have come face-to-face with this taker of life not all have the will power to go beyond the closing of the door.

Rhio was diagnosed with mesothelioma. This is one of the most deadly cancers in the world today. The amazing thing is he did not give up when the doctor told him he had only a year to live. Instead, he put on some boxing gloves and decided that his life was not over until it is over. The fight leads him in countless hours of research, from the library to doctors and even patients to complete his research. This research prepared him for the future and helped him take control of what was left of his life. The knowledge helped him make wise choices in his health care which as a result lived six years long than originally expected.

In this world today, many more people are faced with some type of cancer but with the help of Rhio O’Conner inspiring these candidates might help them fight and become more aware of choices and treatments of cancers. Like many others, I too was faced with the devastation of cancer. First, I felt anger and confusion. How could this be happening to me, I am only 25 years old, with two small children? Then when the doctors told me to make arrangements for my children and to put my affairs in order, it hit me like a ton of bricks. This was really happening; at this point I lost all hope and headed toward my death. Instead of fighting for it or living my last days, I gave up. I tried to take my own life to prevent the effects of the cancer from taking what was left of my integrity. I was not as strong as Rhio O’Conner in my fight; I waddled in my own self petty. The thought of dyeing is frightening and can be overwhelming. I was diagnosed with a cerebral tumor that caused spinal meningitis. The brain pressure fluids cause three major strokes and the loss of one eye, short term memory loss and had to be taught how to spell and read. This was very difficult for me and I gave up quickly. The doctors performed brain surgery to remove the tumor and put me on chemo. I was informed that I would have to have a hysterectomy in order to prevent bleeding to death when my cycle came around. I was 25 years old and they were not going to take any chances I had to having more kids away from me. So, I refused it. I took chemo for two and a half years going weekly to have blood drawn and lumbar punctures performed twice a week. I became a pin cushion, marks all over my arms and back. I lost all my body hair from top to bottom and went from 140 pounds to 79 pounds in less than four months.

The chemo had wiped what strength I had left out. I had to give my children to their father because I was unable to care for them any longer and moved in with my mother. Anything that came in contact with me had to be sterilized or it could cause me harm or even death. Until one day, I decided this was no way to live my last days on this earth. I took my life in my own hands and stopped all the chemo, putting my life in the hands of God. I prayed to him,” Let your will be done for I am done with man medicine.” Was this the right thing to do, no, but enough is enough. I started to stand on my own and researched treatments and cures for my cancer but they all pointed toward the chemo and radiation. That was 14 years ago and I am still here today. I have some issues from time to time but never the less, I am here.

There should be some kind of booklets that can be pasted out to cancer patients to inspire hope and fight for their life. Like Rhio O’Conner’s story. If I had read this story in the beginning maybe I would have been inspired to fight for my life instead of giving up. “It is not over until it is over” was the outlook of Rhio O’Conner and it should be on poster boards all over the world.

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