Rhodes, Valeria | Surviving Mesothelioma

Rhodes, Valeria

Life is often full of curve balls. I never knew what that meant, not really, until 2008. What was the question, oh, what would you do if you were diagnosed with Cancer. I would never have been able to answer that without actually experiencing it for myself.

It started with a small cyst in 2003 that grew to the size of a fist. The doctor was even amazed when he saw it so they did a biopsy of it. The result was that is was cancerous. That was small enough and could be removed. However, they wanted to take a closer look to make sure it had not spread to my lymph nodes so I went for a PET/CT scan. Guess what, they found a spot on my left lung. That too had to have a biopsy—I was then diagnosed with lung cancer. Beginning stages they said (that was in September of 2008). Along with that came osteoporosis (which by this time was causing me joint pain and stiffness especially in my knees). Long periods of sitting are practically excruciating for me and sometimes I would need assistance getting out of a chair. I have on occasion lost my balance and fallen to the ground. My health conditions at age 52 are the equivalent to an 80 year old woman.

I am a Christian. A firm believer in miracles and God’s healing powers. Moving forward, in 2009, I was diagnosed with under active thyroids (which explained my weight gain) and also Angina (heart disease). With all this I wanted to know more, especially after they told me that they saw that stage 4 lung cancer and my only option now was chemotherapy. When I was told that, it didn’t hit a nerve, it just made me think that maybe there are some things that I need to do before I die. I first researched chemotherapy and concluded that more people die after treatment. Seems cancer has a chance of spreading and the treatment kills your immune system (sort of sounds like the suffering of an AIDS patient) at least that’s the visual I got. I did have an opportunity to meet a woman that had chemotherapy. She experienced hair loss (common), loss of taste (everything taste like metal), numbness in her fingers and toes, no energy (they gave her steroids for that) and constipation. Who wants to live like that, I don’t and I refuse to allow a doctor to put me through that to kill some cancer cells and my healthy cells in the process.

Today, I am proactive about my health by changing my eating habits, no sugars, no alcohol (I was a vodka connoisseur, more fruits (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), green vegetables, vitamins supplements such as calcium and vitamin D, milk thistle, Omega-3, and lots of Alkaline based water. I now do not eat fast foods, pastries, beef or any processed foods (canned goods). I shop at Trader Joes (organic veggies, meat and fruits) more now than in the past. I eat more grain too.

What my cancer diagnosis has done is made me more aware and active in my personal health.

I am more informed today and have realized that African Americans do not take care of their health (high blood pressure, strokes and heart attack). In memory of my father who died of a heart attack at age 36, I have taken on a whole new perspective on life and as this is the other half of mine. I want to do something special with my life, all the more reason for me to complete my education. I want to be remembered when the time comes and leave a legacy for my children and especially my grandson (whose a year old now).

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