Born and raised in Nigeria, my grandfather came from a family of twenty-two, including eighteen children. He grew up in Enugu, a rustic village in central Nigeria filled with run-down complexes and bare-footed children playing soccer on unpaved streets. At the age of seventy- two, an American doctor diagnosed him with pancreatic cancer. The doctor told me he was going to die in six month’s time. The cancer caused him difficulty in eating food, so he underwent palliative surgery. Grandpa was able to outlast his diagnosis, and he lived a year and a half after the six months passed. Like my grandfather, Rhio O’Conner had the same determination to outlive his own cancer. With massive amounts of research and a positive spirit, Mr. O’Conner has been able to live for over six years with mesothelioma cancer which is an incurable cancer that typically affects the lining of the lungs, heart, and abdomen. In order to outlive this type of incurable disease with a poor prognosis, there are several necessary factors that would contribute to the process to outlive this type of cancer.
In order to outlive a cancer of this type, my first step would be to analyze my problem. If I do not research this properly, I would be unable to come up with an informed decision to deal with it. First and foremost, I understand that cancer has always been seen as a death sentence, but in actuality it is just an eye opener. The stories of my grandpa and Mr. O’Conner’s prove that I can do just as well. My preliminary research of mesothelioma showed me that this peculiar cancer thickens the cell membranes, causes fluid buildup, and the consequent development of a debilitating tumor that would only spread to other parts of the body if unchecked. Depending on the site of the tumor it can cause breathing difficulties, nausea, fatigue, and a numerous other symptoms and signs. After I speak to my doctor, I would make sure I understood the outlooks of this cancer. I believe this would enable me to decide on the best treatment option that will give me the greatest chance of a prolonged survival. Part of the information I would receive from my doctor would be to get a staging of the cancer, so I would be aware of the extent of the metastasis. My research also told me that there are three different ways to treat cancer, which included chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. These treatments can be used in combination or alone. With this type of knowledge, I would be comfortable in making a good informed decision. People sometimes choose their preference of how they would want to be treated, which I completely respect, but my major concern would be to choose a treatment or a combined treatment that would give me the best chance of outlasting mesothelioma.
I am a very optimistic person by nature. I believe this attitude would proactively contribute to my fight against mesothelioma. Despite the fact that it is labeled as an incurable cancer, I understand I still have a choice of how I would want to proceed with my treatment. One great thing about optimism is that I would not look at the dark side of the cancer but at the bright side, and there is a saying that goes “where there is life there is hope.” During my grandfather’s illness with pancreatic cancer, he still managed to show optimism. Being at his bedside at the age of five, he always reassured me that he would beat his cancer. I understand that illnesses will get worse if one does not demonstrate a positive attitude towards life.
Alongside optimism, I would also count on my family’s support system, and rely on them to give me the strength I need to get through. I cannot overstake what compassion from your loved ones and friends could do for someone on their sick bed. My mother told me how my uncles and aunts showered love to my grandfather when he was in the hospital bed. She also told me encouraging words of how all that love built his spirit up. It is a Nigerian tradition to be at a loved one’s bedside when he/she is sick, so I have no doubt that this would be a huge factor in outliving or even beating mesothelioma cancer.
Finally, I have a strong faith in God. Even though the doctor may give the prognosis of my disease, I still understand that death will only come when God allows it to come. At the time it may seem impossible to me; on the other hand, nothing is impossible to God. He has always come through for me, and He will not let me down. I truly believe the ultimate weapon to fight mesothelioma with is my level of faith in God because it is the notebook that binds everything in my life together. With the ability to research, keep a positive attitude, embrace the support of my family and friends, and maintain my faith in God, I have no doubt that I can outlive my diagnosis of mesothelioma. This cancer may be seen as a death sentence, but in actuality, it is not.
By: Obu, Olumba