The mind is the control panel of the most complex machine known to mankind-the human body. Under its healthy guise, the human body functions, grows and prospers. As with any control panel, the slightest glitch poses a massive threat. The glitch may result from numerous sources including but not limited to physical, sexual, mental, verbal or emotional abuse, as well as experiences and outer influences such as environmental factors, relationships and so on. One of the most jarring blows to the mind is an affront on the immune system or state of well being. A cancer diagnosis is probably the most shattering experience one can endure. It limits, hinders and sometimes destroys those afflicted. Some people (if not some, then most) let this prognosis completely destroy their lives, thoughts, actions and world. However, as in all situations, there are people who choose to eschew negativity, strive for the better and move forward. One such person is James Rhio O’Connor. This extraordinary man refused to die before his time. He shunned the idea of a premature death. Most importantly, he never gave up on himself. Instead of wallowing in his despair and succumbing to a grim fate inflicted upon him by his body. James Rhio O’Connor decided to fight back. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly form of lung cancer in 2001 and given only six months to live. But he denied the prospects, rejected the doctors’ treatment and sought out his own methods for recovery. Mr. O’Connor devoted countless hours to researching his particular cancer condition, hand picked top of the line physicians and implemented his own personalized therapeutic regimen. With the hand and help of God and his own dynamic efforts, James Rhio O’Connor outlived his prognosis by seven years. His intuition led him down the proper path to recovery. While his methods remain undisclosed, they were exceedingly beneficial, far more propitious than standard methods. The three most common treatments for cancer are chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. Chemotherapy is by far the most common form of cancer treatment. It is the only tried and true method of an improvement of survival if used in combination with pemetrexed (a chemotherapy drug). However there are two sides to every story. There are negative effects of chemotherapy as well including nausea, vomiting, stomatitis and diarrhea. The risks for these side effects increase over time especially with the use of pemetrexed. Another problem with chemotherapy and mesothelioma is that start time and cycle quota remain inconclusive. However, when combined with radiation and surgery, a fifty point increase in remission rates is seen. Another staple in cancer treatment is radiation. When considered for the treatment of mesothelioma, it is rejected. The reason rests in the fact that the required dosage to remove non-surgically removed mesothelioma cells would be toxic to the patient. It performs best when of course used in conjunction with surgery. Conversely when used exclusively, no records show an improvement in survival rates. The last leg of the tripod of common treatment is surgery. It has two faces- common and uncommon. Both have proved themselves disappointing when used independently, but when dependent on radiation and chemotherapy, success varies. The most common surgery for mesothelioma is a pleurectomy (decortication) in which the lining of the chest is removed. The least common surgery is the extra pleural pneumonectomy. This surgery necessitates the removal of the lung and inner chest lining, hemi diaphragm and pericardium. The complications stemming from each surgery are the reasons for their unlikely use. These decisions must be extremely heart wrenching to make. Deciding to accept and use them requires great strength, but refusal of such options takes even greater strength. James Rhio O’Connor did so and if I myself were diagnosed with such a crippling disease, I pray that I would ironically conform to such unorthodox methods. The first method I would use in order to aid in the remission and diminution of such a disease is prayer. I firmly believe that with God all things are truly possible, so my initial reaction would be to place my trust in the One who created me and knows me better than anyone on this earth. I would pray for the peace that passes all understanding and the understanding that brings peace, because a sound mind is crucial to recovery. Secondly I would exhaust, utilize, expose and take advantage of every relative source pertaining to/beneficial for my well being. I, like James Rhio O’Connor, would hand select the best physicians to ensure the best views and expertise available. I would try all sorts of alternative cancer treatment including but not limited to acupuncture, massage therapy, herbs and nutritional supplements, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) therapy, meditation, aromatherapy and hypnotherapy. As stated before, the mind must remain healthy in order to render the body likewise. The less stress the mind endures, the better and a number of these treatments (namely meditation, massage, aroma and hypno therapies) severely diminish the levels of stress inflicted upon the brain. Acupuncture serves as a pain reliever and concurrently a stimulant for an improved life quality. Needles are inserted to corresponding nerve patterns for pain. If practiced by a certified physician, it is highly effective in the reduction and alleviation of cancer symptoms and chemo induced side effects such as nausea and vomiting. This practice also improves the body’s overall immune system and steadily weans the patient off of pain medications. Massage therapy also serves as a stress reliever and pain reducer. The American Cancer Society supports this claim, citing the universal benefits of massage therapy. It also supports the immune system by increasing blood circulation. Herbs and nutritional supplements provide great support for the body during this difficult time. Antioxidants (primarily vitamins A, C, E and selenium) are very essential to the fiber of the immune system. If taken in accordance with and during chemotherapy, the beneficial aspects of the therapy emerge. Another resource (somewhat drastic, but completely justifiable by the literal life or death situation) I would exercise is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) therapy. During this therapy, low voltage electrical impulses are transmitted through electrodes on the skin to the afflicted area. This results in positive effects on mild to moderate pain. However, this method is ineffective on chronic pain and toxic to those with heart problems. Due to the fact that most of the physical ailments (unrelated to treatments) plaguing patients formulate in the mind, meditation provides a great source of comfort and stability. Meditation decreases pain, anxiety, stress, blood pressure and insomnia. It spurs an increase in positive emotional states in certain areas of the brain, resulting in a tranquil state of mind necessary for an immediate recovery. Aromatherapy is another treatment option geared towards relaxation and stress relief. The limbic system (the emotional center of the brain) is positively stimulated by certain odorant molecules released from the oils used. The applications of topical ointments produce an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect. This therapy is especially successful on anxiety, depression, nausea and pain. The last treatment I would try is hypnotherapy. Even though it necessitates the loss of control and elemental freedom, it is exceedingly efficient in the reduction of stress, chemo induced side effects and an improved quality of life. It aids in pre and post operative preparations. Lastly it benefits the immune system and tends to generate positive results. Retrospectively, health and wellness tie into each other easily. They both situate themselves in the mind and entail adequate nurturing and care in order to function properly. When we as human beings dwell on wellness and stay positive, we can truly achieve great things. We can draw inspiration from Mr. O’Connor’s experience and story. He fought against and rose above a physical injustice and lived his life to its fullest. If I were placed in his predicament, I pray that God would grant me the strength to not only find and use my own remedies, but stay positive. As illogical as this sounds, there is truth in it. My worrying will only add to my physical ailments and weaken my progress. But if I cast aside my insecurities and fears, mock adversity and branch out, wonderful things will happen. I am absolutely positive of it.
By: Ruffin, Shalimar