More Optimistic Outlook

On February 8th, 2010 my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. That Wednesday she underwent surgery successfully removing most all of the cancer. Friday we had received the news that she would be ok. My other grandmother died last November from a complicated breast cancer involving an allergic reaction to some medicine. My mother successfully beat cervical cancer in her mid 20s. My family wants for me to undergo genetic testing to see if I carry BRCA1 and BRCA2, which are heritable genes that predispose us to a higher chance of cancer. This was a lot for one week, but because of it my outlook on morality has changed.

Since my grandmothers experience with cancer, I’ve quit smoking. The idea of cancer in my future reminds me how upsetting it would make me and my family, so why not do everything in my power now to prevent cancerous agents from joining my body. I’ve been utilizing my schools gym more than before, because if cancer does grow on me I want a healthy body to be able to fight back. I’m joining Portland State University’s Dragon Boat team, so that I can continue a steady workout regimen throughout the year. I hear that people are at their physical peak at 25, I am 21 and I want to do everything possible to reach my peak and stay there.

If I am to be diagnosed with cancer, I will do everything in my power to avoid chemotherapy. My grandma Lynn died after two weeks of chemotherapy, it changed her. My last memories of her she was disoriented and didn’t remember who her family was. If I know my clock is ticking, I don’t want to spend it in a mindset that is not my own. After being informed by several doctors of what my options were, I would seek alternative methods from different cultures. Possibly natural medicine and meditation are alternatives I would seek. I would look for people online who with success stories of cancer patients and how they fended off or eradicated this incurable disease.

People are constantly confronted with their capacities for self efficacy. Personal problems alone can be enough to rattle the stability of our own lives. When a medical condition limits our abilities it can make us feel more helpless than we really are. If I were to be told “Jennifer, you have less than one year to live” I would have a hard time grasping it. Like James, I would be determined to find other sources with a more optimistic outlook on my chances of survival. I would prefer to take more initiative in my life then to bend to the whim of death, as long as possible. I can understand people who, upon hearing they have cancer, quickly want the more effective solution. With my experience with my late grandmother I would not want to undergo chemotherapy, so an alternative method must be found. Healthy eating and exercise are already changing my life for the better, hopefully if I am diagnosed with cancer that aspect of my health would be beneficial to my recovery.

James Rhio O’Conner devoted himself to seeking a cure or a way too elongate his existence and he succeeded. While doctors told him one thing, he was determined to find alternatives to such a finite end to his life. My family’s history of cancer being reawakened in me reminds me that it is best to prepare for the worst. I could wait until I know I have cancer to eat healthier, work out more and not smoke, but it would be beside the point then. Mr. O’Conner set a bar for going above and beyond ones own capacity for taking care of themselves. I hope that if I am ever faced with a life threatening illness I will do everything in my power as well to seek possibilities outside of the normal prescription.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genetically transmittable cancer inducing compounds that I am likely to have. I may have been made with some bad genes but I don’t need genetic testing to tell me I’ve acquired my mom and grandmothers strengths and courage. The impact of hearing I have cancer will change my life in ways I couldn’t imagine. Through support of my friends and family I have learned to make the best out of every situation and to take things only they come. The beauty of that is that we have the freedom can search out for things that can shape our own future.

By: Post, Jennifer

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