I hope to live a long and healthy life. I have many goals for myself, such as finding a job I enjoy, traveling the world, raising a family, and making a difference. I work towards these goals every day by taking small steps. I live in the present and don’t take my life for granted. When I was a junior in high school, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I experienced, through him, the chemo, radiation, tough decisions, blood tests, acupuncture, pills, vitamins, and everything else that his diagnosis led to. I learned about the process that begins after a cancer diagnosis and the various aspects it includes.
If I were given a dire cancer prognosis, I would want to live pain free for the maximum amount of time. I don’t think going through intense rounds of chemo with rough side effects is always the best decision. If the chemo could be successful, I would attempt that. However, if the point came when the chemo was no longer successful it is important to re-assess the situation. I would not want to continue a treatment if it wasn’t going to work. I remember the day my dad decided to end his chemo treatment. He wanted to live out the rest of his life without the hospital visits and various side effects. While this is an extremely tough decision, I would hope that I would have the strength and courage to make this kind of decision if I were in a similar situation.
Before getting to the end, however, it is important to think about how to react from the very beginning. I would research my diagnosis in many ways. I would talk to multiple physicians to get different perspectives. I would also visit specialists in various fields so that I could be informed about the situation as a whole. I would want to focus on where the cancer was specifically as well as how it may impact other parts of my body. Physicians would help educate me and teach me what I need to know so that I could make the decisions on my own.
I would also use the Internet for factual information about the condition as well as for reading other people’s stories. Looking at blogs and discussion boards can be helpful in learning about other experiences and finding support. A dire cancer prognosis can be extremely hard and devastating, and finding other people who have had a similar experience can form a community over the web.
James “Rhio” O’Connor has an incredible story. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma and given a year to live. Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer in which cancerous cells spread in the mesothelium, a protective sac covering many of the body’s internal organs. The cells often invade tissue and organs near them and then spread throughout the body. O’Connor’s tumor was near his spine, therefore inoperable, and chemo would not have been able to prolong the healthy part of his life. Even when his doctors didn’t believe anymore, O’Connor never gave up. He researched the condition, he talked with people, he changed his diet, he exercised, and he changed his way of life. O’Connor was determined to prove the doctors wrong, and he did just that.
I hope that I would react similar to O’Connor did when he received his diagnosis. If chemo and radiation had little to offer, I would want to find alternatives that could help. I would look to supplements, acupuncture, yoga, exercise, and more. In the United States we often take a biomedical approach by immediately turning to antibiotics, chemo, radiation, etc. Other countries and other cultures have treatments very different than the biomedical approach. I would turn to these for a natural and healthy treatment.
Throughout the process I would also focus on my mind. The mind and body are connected, so stress in the mind can cause stress on the body. If my body were already in stress due to cancer, it would be important to remain calm. I would practice yoga and other calming practices that focus on breathing to help as well. I would retain a positive outlook and believe that I could get better. Studies have shown that a positive attitude connects to how the body does. I think keeping my mind calm and positive would be important for how my body handled the disease and its various treatments.
I hope that I never have to face a situation similar to the one my dad faced or to the one O’Connor faced. It is a difficult situation that no one should have to deal with. However, if I were diagnosed with cancer I would take whatever approaches available to help myself live longer and healthier. I would hope to be strong, resourceful, and brave when dealing with my condition. I would hope to find ways to prove my doctors wrong, as O’Connor did, and extend my life by many years after diagnosed.
By: Rosen, Emily