Offerman, Anna L. – Surviving Mesothelioma

Offerman, Anna L.

Inspiration from Rhio O’Connor

Reading the story of Rhio O’Connor and his fight against his dire prognosis is inspiring. It reminds me of my life-long role model and hero Stephen Hawking. Both men were diagnosed with terminal diseases and given very little time to live yet far exceeded those diagnoses. People who are faced with anything as overwhelming as being told they are going to die, and there’s no way to avoid it, yet keep fighting and going on is amazing to me. It shows strength of character that we should all aspire to and count ourselves lucky if we manage to get even close to who they are.

If I were to be diagnosed with a terminal disease from which I was not expected to recover I would want to make the most with what I could of the time I had left. I have had to struggle in my life as it is and I couldn’t imagine simply giving up what I dream of because someone says I won’t have it. My father died when I was only ten and my mother was physically, emotionally, and mentally abusive. Yet I never let these things stop me in what I want to do with my life. Even at a young age I knew I was responsible for my own life and what I would get from it. No one can take that away from me. I could never simply “give up.” I would use every resource I had to try and find ways to prolong my life so that I might fulfill my childhood dream of becoming a scientist.

I would take classes in biology and any that are in any way related to my disease. In these classes, I would approach the professors and explain my diagnosis. I would request any extra tutoring they could give and any books, periodicals, or any sources they could suggest that would be helpful in my endeavor to find a treatment that would work for me. I would spend many hours in the library of the school searching for any published works that pertain to my diagnosis and the treatments that have been tried. I would compare the success rate of each treatment based on criteria that would be relevant to me, such as age, gender, and ethnicity. I would also look up well known and respected names in the field regarding my disease and study their articles and research.

Once I have information and names, I would then send e-mails or letters to the professionals who wrote the various periodicals or books explaining my diagnosis and ask for any suggestions they have, ideas they might think would work for me, and what they’ve seen from various real life cases. I would explain to them how I refuse to give up on my life, but also know I need help to find a way to continue living. I would respectfully request for any help they could provide.

After I had written to the various men and women who are published in this field I would go see my general physician. I would talk to her as much as possible about my disease since she is the doctor who knows me the best. I would ask what she thinks of the various treatments I have found, and which she thinks are best suited for me. I would also request recommendations for local doctors that I can meet with face to face to discuss my disease and possible treatments. When I had acquired these names I would call them and make appointments as soon as possible so that I can discuss the treatments they are most familiar with based off what my general physician recommends.

I would then go back to the library and start to research alternative medicines, ranging from meditation to spiritual rituals. I would look at the possibilities of treatment and the names of various experts on the treatments. In this research I would be particularly careful as I fully realize that there are many people who would take advantage as one such as me and sell me snake oil and just take my money. For this I would find any online forums I can to discuss the different treatments and the experts in this field with other people who have the same or a similar disease to what I have.

Despite my estrangement with my mother I would also ask for her help in this regard. She has always been knowledgeable in alternative and Eastern medicine. I would try to explain these things to my mother and hope that she could also look past our past problems so that we could work together towards finding me treatment.

Besides researching treatments I think one thing that is so very important is to make sure I maintain a mental connection to my life. It would be very hard and depressing, and I know I would need a proper support system. I am blessed with having very good friends who care about me deeply. I would ask them for any help they could offer; be it research from the doctors I know (both MDs and PhDs) or any research from my friends. I know I am not the perfect researcher so any help I could receive from them would be absolutely priceless. Those of my friends that cannot research I would ask to help me fund my treatment and research. Not just asking my friends for money, but holding fundraisers, bake sales, and the like. I would ask one of my many web expert friends to create a fundraising webpage for me in an attempt to ask the public as a whole to help me in my endeavor to better the life that I have remaining. And even those friends who are unable to help fiscally or research would still be vital to my survival. I know I would need emotional support, reminders of why life is worth going on for, beyond just me. They would help to remind me of the wonders of life, ones that people usual take for granted such as best friends; having people who care about me so deeply despite not being a lover or biological family; showing that there is a good side to humanity out there that makes my endeavors and determination to stay in this world worth fighting for.

Lastly, though not least important, would be my pets. I own two cats and a rat. I love them all very deeply; they are my children to me. I can’t imagine leaving them in this world without me to watch over them. They would give me the strength I need to push on and survive.

There are countless reasons and ways I would find to survive, and a brief essay does not clearly express my admiration of anyone faced with these circumstances, or the determination I would have if I were in their position. I would never give up hope for my life, I simply couldn’t. I can understand on a psychological level why some people do feel hopeless, but in the face of certain doom you need to maintain a positive attitude. Through all my research, even if there was no way I could help myself I would try to help others by testing new treatments that are being pioneered, and hopefully by providing others with the sort of inspiration Rhio O’Connor has given me.

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