The path of least resistance is a road worn by travelers conflicted about whether to trust their own judgment; or to put their lives in the hands of medical experts who advise them with conviction. That conviction usually made infinitely more palatable by years of experience, education, trials, and in this case medical degrees, peer consensus, and maybe the threat of malpractice. That worn road is an easy choice, it does not require a lot of thought to choose it, everyone knows how to direct you to it, you won’t get lost. Rhio’s path, however, is troublesome, there are no road maps. Rhio had to carve his path out of the dirt, pave his way, look out for unexpected detours, and naysayers who would accuse him of straying off course.
Rhio suffered from Pleural Mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos. (For more information on Mesothelioma, please visit Cancer Monthly’s authoritative mesothelioma survivors’ website www.survivingmesothelioma.com). Mesothelioma attacks the outer lining of the lungs. The disease is fatal and has a poor prognosis. But then again life is ultimately fatal. So if I were told that death, due to cancer, was imminent, the very best I could hope for is to simply extend that brief sentence for long as possible and to do so in a manner which preserved my quality of life (as well as my family and support system’s quality of life) to as vast a degree as possible. This is exactly what Rhio set out to do, and was affective at doing for over seven years. My approach would be to seek the advice of two, maybe three or even four traditional physicians, whose reputations were well respected. I would read books like Rhio’s “They Said Months, I Chose Years: A Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story” as well as other stories from survivors to see what paths they chose that may have been less traditional (or alternative approaches). I would consult my family and respected friends for advice. Lastly, I would weigh all of my options and chose my own destiny.
While conducting my research, I would keep a journal of how I felt each day. Making sure to chart everything that went on with my body (food, medication, beverages etc.), how many hours I slept, how much exercise I had, all environmental changes (like smog, rain or sun shine), charting whether I was stressed or happy. I would make an earnest attempt to keep track of anything (and everything) that impacted my life (good, bad or indifferent). It would be important to me to analyze the content of this journal to deduce what scenarios made me feel the best, made me thrive. Additionally, I would use the approach that doctors use when determining allergies, experimenting with not taking any medications for a brief time and reintroduce them one at a time to isolate the impact and determine the benefit (or lack of benefit) derived. I would become my own science project, and most certainly would consider any and all viable options. And certainly if chemo, radiation and surgery were of no known benefit, I would look beyond those traditional options.
There is a wealth of information online today. And like everything else in the world, some of it is good and some is bad. There are support groups, consisting of people with similar plights online. I would research the information for credibility and join groups (the most credible ones). In my mind, there is no need to reinvent the wheel, and this type of research would help me to focus on making new mistakes rather than repeating old ones. Patients tend to know there woes much better than anyone else, and to listen to their experiences first hand would put the most perfect descriptor on my symptoms. This would help me to describe my situation to my doctors more accurately. Getting input from other patience would also lend strength and credibility to my argument, if challenged. There is strength in numbers.
Were I to be diagnosed with Pleural Mesothelioma specifically, I would identify the noted symptoms and compare them to my own. Some of the symptoms I found are chest wall pain, fluid surrounding the lungs, shortness of breath, fatigue, anemia, coughing, blood in the sputum, tumors, abdominal pain, weight loss, bowel problems, blood clots, jaundice, and low blood sugar. Rhio decided that detoxifying the body would be a good start, and since there is no real danger in this process, my gut would tell me that I would have nothing to lose by getting all of the poisons out of my body. Rhio used Natures Life Ultimate Fiber and Ultimate Herbs and later Super Cleanse, lecithin, thisilin, and marshmallow (the herb). After Rhio detoxified his body, he refilled it with a healthy diet. Believing that cancer cells can have hormone receptors and that artificial hormones trigger cancer cells to multiply, he chose to eat organically grown food and to cut out all sugar, hydrogenated oils, and fried foods. Maybe this regimen cannot cure cancer, but remember my goal is to extend life to expire simultaneously with the declination of the quality of life. These healthy principles would surely even give a cancer patient the best possible quality of life.
In addition to the food Rhio consumed he also used supplements, taking as many as 100 to 142 vitamins a day, for a cost of $1000 per day. He reminds us that these supplements were geared for his personal chemistry and that each individual is different and has different requirements to be tailored to their individual needs. The point being, that each person has to do their own research and come to conclusions that will benefit their diagnosis.
Rhio reinforced my innate belief that I must trust my gut and do my homework when it comes to life and death issues. And really this quality must be employed in all facets of life. Ultimately, when reviewing the best decisions I have made in my life, the common thread seems to be the collaborative analytical process utilized to draw conclusions. That process is an extremely mathematical and scientific one, whereby you create all of the possible scenarios you can think of, play them out in your mind, research the options with knowledgeable resources, gather every possible opinion you can, but ultimately draw your own conclusions. The absolute worse decisions I have made, are those where I allowed myself to drift aimlessly with the wind and to go where it blew me. Not to equate the advice of doctors with the act of being blown by the wind, but when a patient is not an equal and active partner in their medical treatment, their lives are at the mercy of others.