Schroeder, Shannon | Surviving Mesothelioma

Schroeder, Shannon

The Big Bad Wolf

Life… cancer… death, seems to be the way those words are placed when put in order. The wonderful thing, and the most over looked thing, is it doesn’t always have to go in that order. Death does not always come as a result of cancer. Life is a precious gift given to each individual and it is our job to breathe it to the fullest no matter the hard ships that may sail through. Rhio O’Connor lived by that philosophy. The diagnosis of mesothelioma was no match for his faith in more and his fight to beat it. Just reading Rhio’s story shows me that he was stubborn, much like myself, and also he didn’t do well with the “incurable” part of his diagnosis. Cancer doesn’t mean death unless someone lets it. He showed strength, faith, and persistence towards his diagnosis, which is inspiring to anyone cancer or no cancer. He helped me to think about what I might do in that situation.

Mesothelioma is cancer of the mesothelium, which is a lining inside the bodies that basically helps cushion major organs. It allows them to have a little wiggle room and not be damaged. Most mesothelioma occurs in the mesothelium of the lungs called the pleura. The reason for this is due to all the pollutions we breathe in on a daily basis. But those at high risk are working with very toxic chemicals such as asbestos. Symptoms don’t normally arise until later in life so most find out when it is advanced as Rhio O’Connor did. Even though it is a very deadly cancer he put on his game face and went head on into prolonging his life since they only projected a year for him to live. He outlived that by six years. www.survivingmesothelioma.com

I am a 20 year-old college student who hasn’t done much other than school, work, and be a kid. I think a lot of young adults don’t spend much time thinking about the hard reality of life. Life is such a beautiful thing but it doesn’t always show its most beautiful side. Depression, heartbreak, regret, and sorrow are a few emotions from the ugly side of life. At my age I have only experienced brief moments of these feelings and that is why youth sometimes feels so invincible. To be honest I catch myself saying “Oh that won’t ever happen to me.” But the scary truth is that no one is safe from life’s tragedies. My boyfriend reminds me of that every day when I see the scars that run up and down both legs from a freak blood clot that occurred when he was the young age that I am now, 20. He was a medical mystery and to this day it is undetermined as to why he had such a horrific clot in his leg. His clot wasn’t cancer but just another reminder that humans aren’t bullet proof.

The big “C” word seems to be the villain in many family stories. Cancer is the modern day Big Bad Wolf that can blow any house down. Rhio’s story is one to inspire people and families everywhere to never quit and not give up on life. If I were to be diagnosed with cancer I think that in the beginning I would have feelings of depression because no one wants to be told their life is over. But after that I would with no doubt in my mind fight. I have always been a motivated person. I am not the smartest person or the most practical but I think that being determined and confident whether it is in school or dealing with something as scary as cancer can make anyone a success.

Rhio looked outside the box and fought for his life not by just listening to the Dr. about his “incurable” diagnosis but also listening to his own body. No one knows what someone’s body feels or its limits except for the person within that body. I have to say I am a wimp when it comes to pain. I say ouch on an hourly basis, but deep down I know that I am strong. If it came down to my life I would take the time to research different options so that I would be so informed that any decision I would make I would feel confident of the outcome. One of the most important things I would do first is to talk to everyone. Family and friends can sometimes be better than any Dr. because they are a circle of trust and knowledge. Those closest to you can help in the fight by using personal experience or even just helping research any and every article available. Once I felt confident with the treatments I chose I would contact those undergoing it and let them tell me about there treatment. The good, the bad, and the ugly to make sure I was willing to make that life change. Not everyone is meant to have chemo or radiation to treat cancer. I would probably use them as long as I felt they were being effective in my particular case without taking the life out of me before the cancer did. With a diagnosis of cancer I don’t think there is a limit to where I would look for treatment. Anyone who places value on their life or the life of a loved one would go to the ends of the earth to find the best possible action.

People are all different just like all cancers are different. Treatments don’t always have to be the same. That is why it is our job to continue to inform ourselves on new and effective ways to fight every round of life. It takes more than just going to chemo or the particular therapy chosen. Cancer takes faith in something bigger than the individual something to live for and something to die for. Having that as a foundation will kick cancer to the curb because positive thinking can also have a huge impact on the “incurable” side of any sickness. Family, friends, and faith along with finding the right course of treatment would enrich and prolong my life if I were in that situation. It seems to have helped Rhio O’Conner in his battle. Never sit back and watch your life speed past. “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” (William Wallace). So live, because you never know when your Big Bad Wolf is going to try and blow your house down.

Get your free copy of
“Surviving Mesothelioma” Today!