Petkov, Mincho | Surviving Mesothelioma

Petkov, Mincho

Can you fly?

Imagine that you are skydiving and you find out that your parachute cannot open. With all this fun, now all of a sudden there is no time. I am sure no one would like to continue imagining. Life can good, bad, and ugly but it rarely put us in such a serious situation. We complain about problems on a daily basis and as soon as we face something more serious, we surrender and do whatever people tell us we should do or whatever solution we come up with first. Then we sit down to analyze our mistake. Why did I not get prepared on a first place? Why did I not study the problem? Why did I not study all the options? Why did I act so emotionally? The answer is easy – we are not perfect. Most likely we will not face the same problem again and, as usual, we will not be prepared for the next serious one. We all skydive: from a plane, from the time we pay the entrance fee at the night club to the time we leave the club, or from the time we start reading a book until the time we finish it. Unfortunately, some people have the parachute problem – the most serious of the serious problems. Fortunately, we can learn from their way of handling the problem. James “Rhio” O’Connor, a cancer survivor, has proven to us that our own mind and attitudes are the only limitations of our capabilities and that self-motivation can give us wings.

Mr. O’Connor was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos-caused form of cancer, in 2001. In his situation, surgery was not an option and chemotherapy would decrease the quality of his life without significant results. Doctors gave him a year to live and told him to take some time for himself and then get hospice care. Instead, he fought back. He was not prepared, probably like most of the 35,000 Americans that are expected to be diagnosed in the coming decade, but he did not panic or surrender. He studied “Mr. Meso,” as he called the disease. He learned about how it is formed, what it does to you, how it can be managed, and what would be the consequences of the various methods of fighting the disease. Together with professional clinicians he changed the way he lived and gave himself more than eight years of life.

The scientific research on mesothelioma, as well as any other illness, is the first place to look for treatment. Medical professionals have the experience of thousands of affected people and have already tried many of the available methods for handling the disease. This knowledge is available and should be taken advantage of. The cruelty of “Mr. Meso” is that it is usually discovered too late because the symptoms come too late. If one of the medical methods, such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation, is appropriate, it should be used unless the expected results would not be satisfying. In the case of Rhio O’Connor, the usual practices were inappropriate, which turned out maybe to be for his good.

The usual ways to fight such illnesses include more than the scientific way. Cancer is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Money can be earned, a career can be made, and friends can be found, but to beat cancer you need more than that. This is where the unusual methods come into play. I would learn, as I am sure people do, about everything than can be used against the disease. If the recommendation is to stay upside down to feel better, I would learn to walk with my arms; if somebody discovered that tea made from grass is helpful, I would add it to my salad too. There are many types of alternative medicine used today and many of them are suggested by clinicians. It is very important not to do unnecessary harm to ourselves. That is why we should always be smart and try to learn from others’ mistakes. The question is which treatments to pick? Besides the alternative approaches that are proven to have little positive effects in fighting cancer, there are probably thousands others, such as CH-23, whose founder states that this is a real cure but the officials do not agree. Then, there is no true answer of what is the best way to fight the disease and, anyway, there is no universal solution.

The phrase of Hippocrates “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” inspired Rhio O’Connor and I would add that we need to be physically active too. If you just ask any biology teacher, he or she would tell you without any doubt that nature is perfect and we are its most talented kids. It is hard to understand it, but it is not illogical. We cannot expect to poison our bodies everyday and be in good health. Limited amounts of some nutrients or an overdose of others can have a much greater impact on us that we would imagine. If you break a leg it hurts immediately, but if you pop this and that in the microwave, the consequences come much later. Our body is like a car, and like most drivers we do not use premium gas. Mr. O’Connor has proven to us how proper diet can make miracles. Food did not probably give him all the years he survived after the diagnosis, but it definitely helped. Our physical, as well as the mental, health also depends on how active we are. Our body is built to fight many diseases, but if we are lazy, so is our body. I started to run just before the winter and unusually I did not get any cold or flu this winter. This, you might consider an exception, but there is more: now the cold weather does not bother me as much and I have twice the energy I had before. I would suggest everyone add physical activities to their life. You could get into your car, go to the park, and at least fast walk as a beginning. While interacting on a runners’ website, I learned about a fifty-one-year-old woman who runs ten miles in the morning and six in the evening. Who do you think has better health – you or she? I know you know the answer, but I am not sure if you know how she does it.

Another, and by the way the most important, lesson from the quest for life of Mr. O’Connor is his self-motivation. First, he made the most important step, he decided to fight; and second, he did not quit. He used mind-body medicine and most importantly he fought for life with his heart. If we are motivated and put an effort, love, and desire, we gain energy instead of losing it. Then, we can do anything! There are no buts or exceptions to that. Even if we do not achieve the result we craved, we will end up getting something much more valuable. We can get something we never thought we had a desire for and probably never thought about. Fortunately, there is much to desire. There is never enough time and money, but if we get at least some of the flame that burned in Rhio O’Connor, we can easily claim that we are the happiest people in the world and truly believe it.

Rhio O’Connor serves as an example to us as a person who came close to what we all want. He did things not only in the right way, but also in the desired way. My little knowledge about mesothelioma is enough to make me a very happy and thankful person. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be told I have only one year left to live. I think of what I did in the past year – I worried about my taxes. It is not like I did not have problems but nothing bad really happened. I had mostly good moments and my parachute was in place. But who knows? Some of us might face the parachute problem. No one deserves it, but it sometimes comes. The goods news is – Rhio told us how to grow wings!

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