Mesothelioma is an uncommon form of cancer that develops from the protective lining, mesothelium, which covers many of the body’s internal organs. Most people who get mesothelioma have worked jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles, or they have been exposed to asbestos dust and fiber in other ways, like industrial laborers. My name is Vanessa Murrieta and I was diagnosed with Malignant Mesothelioma at the age of nineteen. The doctors are not sure how I developed the cancer, mainly because I am so young. Nevertheless, they tried many treatments on me including chemotherapy and radiation; but when none of the treatments worked, they told me that I only have one year left to live. Hearing those words just tore me apart, but I was not about to give up on life.
When I was first diagnosed with cancer I did not want to believe it. I had gone to several doctors to make sure it was true, and unfortunately they all confirmed that I had cancer. My mother did not trust any of the doctors in the United States so she made an appointment for me to go see a specialist in Mexico, but it was all the same. As soon as I came back to the United States I quickly got started with chemotherapy, my cancer was so advanced at the time that it did not help much. The doctor said I could not get surgery because the cancer was too far along. It seemed like my cancer was not about to go away as I became even more ill. A close friend of mine had come to visit me and she gave me a book called “They said Months, I Chose Years: A Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story” by James Rhio O’Connor. The book is about Rhio O’Connor and his fight with Mesothelioma. He was given a few months to live but he found a way around it by researching the cancer and conducting his own treatment of over one-hundred supplements a day, changing his diet, and his entire lifestyle; he outlived his prognosis by seven and a half years. The story of Rhio O’Connor is a tremendous inspiration to me and it changed my perception towards cancer in general. It just proved that doctors are not the only people who can give you answers and that sometimes you just have to look for the answers yourself.
After reading the book I was determined to find another treatment that was not chemotherapy or radiation. I started researching mesothelioma by asking other patients about how they are treating it, by going to the library, and looking it up on the internet. While on the internet I came across some great sites like www.survivingmesothelioma.com, which answers many questions one may have about mesothelioma and it includes a list of doctors that can help and stories of other survivors. During this time I felt like my cancer was getting worse; the chest pain would not go away and it was much more difficult to breathe. Sure enough, my symptoms were right; the cancer was getting worse and during my next doctor visit, I was given a prognosis of one year left to live. I refused to accept it. Instead I decided to change my entire lifestyle like Rhio O’Connor did. I had consulted with a nutritionist about what diet I should follow, and I worked with different doctors to see what treatment we could come up with. Many of the doctors I consulted are shown in www.survivingmesothelioma.com. Another remedy that I believe helped me a lot physically and mentally was meditation; it definitely helped me view the cancer in a different way so that I can mentally not have it exist anymore.
Through my determination and research I was able to fight and overcome the prognosis I was given. Today I am twenty-seven years old and staying strong. Although the cancer has not completely gone away I found a way to live with it. Without the inspiration of Rhio O’Connor’s story I probably would not have taken the path I took to overcome mesothelioma. Now I try to share my story to others in hope that I may be able to inspire other cancer patients to never give up.