Alarm sounds—we awake. Cell phone rings—we answer. Clock chimes—we begin and conclude the workday. We live by a schedule, a monotonous, habitual schedule, and everyday we hope for something different. However, what if this change to our lives comes so abruptly that we have no time to prepare, no method of predicting its devastating interruption, and no possibility of it departing with us alive? This frightening and often fatal change that causes us to implore a return to our scheduled normalcy is the very real and terrifying truth of cancer. Unfortunately, cancer has become the plague of the twenty-first century, and it can strike at any time and make any of us its victim, just as it did to James “Rhio” O’Connor. For this admirable exemplar of courage, the cancer came to him in the form of mesothelioma, and it came as a result of his scheduled meeting with the carcinogenic asbestos to which he was exposed during his younger days. From his battle with cancer, we witness O’Connor’s strength. But how would someone else have handled the prognosis? The question becomes, what would I do if cancer struck me at this moment? The answer to that question for me lies in research and faith.
If a doctor entered my room with results that I had cancer and a mere month to live, I hope that I would have the courage to first seek multiple opinions of other oncology experts who could provide a consistent prognosis and treatment options. I have personally seen eight of my family members endure precancerous findings in the ovaries, lung cancer, lymphoma, and breast cancer. And I have seen the devastation of not just cancer itself, but also chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical procedures, such as mysectomy. Thus, I would try other remedies, such a supplements and newly researched medications.
Most importantly, the key for me to enduring cancer would depend neither on medications nor therapies. Instead, my life would depend on faith and family. Support is integral to defeating cancer as I have seen through my own family members who have battled and won. And just as O’Connor wrote a book to inspire others through his own cellular war, my weapon to cancer is a belief in much more than this world can offer. Prayer and family would give me the support to make decisions based on the knowledge I would have obtained through research and answers to my questions from those who have survived or witnessed my form of cancer. Therefore, I would first seek second, third, and fourth opinions. I would then research through the Cancer Centers of America, Mayo Clinic, and sites to find answers from those who have defeated or worked with the type of cancer attacking my body. This research provides treatment options, and then I would leave my fate in the hands of God, who blesses us with family and faith to give us extraordinary strength, like the courage of James “Rhio” O’Connor. For it is through all these actions that we may conquer this horrific plague and even find alternative treatments for other cancer victims. If we could survive cancer, the ultimate devastation to our daily lives, we may return to our usual routines with health and family—the greatest gifts on Earth.
By: Muta, Megan