Mulkey, Stephen – Surviving Mesothelioma

Mulkey, Stephen

‘When will I die?’ This is a question to which most of us have a simple and easy answer. ‘I don’t know.’ For anyone with a serious form of cancer, their answer is much different and much more difficult. James O’Connor, who had mesothelioma, faced this difficult question with a strong spirit of determination, and because of his dedication and will to succeed, he significantly outlived his diagnosis.

Cancer patients, who have mesothelioma or other major forms of cancer, face many hardships. First they are confronted with the fact that they may die soon, and then they have to go through the long and agonizing process of treatment. However, through all of the pain and uncertainty, there are some who fight through it and live much longer than expected. James O’Connor did not survive his disease (since mesothelioma is one of the worst forms of cancer), but he was able to live much longer than his doctors expected. He persevered in the face of death.

According to Cancer Monthly, “He spent hours in the library and spoke to countless doctors, researchers and patients.” He could have sat around and done nothing, but he chose to do everything that he could to get better. He could have given up, but instead he was able to learn enough through his own research to be involved in his treatment selection process alongside his doctors, rather than being a passive patient. When he asked himself the question, ‘when will I die?’, his doctor’s answered for him and said that he would die within one year. O’Connor chose not to accept that answer and to give an answer of his own. Rather than becoming passive and accepting his fate, he chose to be active and hopeful, and as a result his efforts and learning led to his prolonged life. I think we can all learn a lesson from his response.

We all face hardships of one kind or another all throughout our lives, and we never know exactly what the outcome will be. Many times we give up and give into the pressure of feeling like things won’t get better or that we are helpless. James O’Connor did not know what his outcome would be, but did that stop him? No! He went ahead and did everything he could to prolong his life, not knowing whether it would work or not. He did the best that he could to improve his situation and didn’t give up. So why should we give up?

I was thinking earlier today about some problems I am currently having with my health. My neck has been in serious pain for 2 years now and it has been interfering with how I can live my day-to-day life. Recently, I have had many doctors’ visits with several different doctors, but my neck has not been getting better, and we don’t yet know how to stop the pain. I was beginning to lose hope. I was wondering if it would ever get better and was feeling like giving up on trying to do what I could to fix the problem. But then I thought of James O’Connor and what he did in his situation. He was faced with a much bigger challenge than I am currently facing, but he didn’t give up, so why should I? If he can face death and do what he did, I can face my pain and do the same. I can keep trying to make things better and can keep hoping that my neck pain will eventually go away with enough effort and dedication.

If I were to be diagnosed with cancer and be given one year to live, I would do what O’Connor did. I would research my disease on my own and do everything I could do to be involved in the treatment process. Also, I would rely a lot on support from my family. I know that my family would be a big help if I was facing what O’Connor faced. Now that I think about it, those are some things that I can apply to any difficult situation I’m facing. I can be determined, be active, and rely on my close relationships to get me through.

We are not often faced with such a question as ‘when will I die?’ However, it is important that we look to those, like James O’Connor, who faced that question and faced death with great strength, hope and determination. We can look at their examples to fuel our own determination in the midst of our own hardships (whether they be the same or different). Their livess show us that we can also be victorious.

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