I imagine being in a doctor’s office, the doctors face and soft voice as I am told the test results. I don’t know what they mean and fear sinks in. I am diagnosed with cancer; the life I expected is altered. My dreams of family and holding children are on hold, now my future holds the dedicated battle against cancer. Cancer affects more than just the body it also affects family and friends. I want my family and friends there to support and help me. But first I must find out what help is available.
Every battle is a process and has specific steps. My first step is to find out all that I can. The next step is to get in contact with people who have or had cancer and to talk to doctors so I can understand what the cancer is doing. My next step would be my decision on how I am going to fight my cancer and what treatments to use. After making this decision the next step is to take action through the decision of treatment. If my condition changes I need to be ready, willing, and able is to revaluate my situation and where I stand.
To help assuage my uncertainties I would do my best to find out everything I could about the cancer that I am fighting. Oncologist and Cancer centers are invaluable resources. I need to be active in questioning my physicians and in making sure I understand their information. Cancer centers will have many resources available for me to use. One resource could be support groups. Talking to people who actually have or have survived cancer can offer the support, advice, and knowledge that I need to understand my cancer. Hearing stories of success can boost morale, and optimism is a must. Optimism is a sign of hope, and as long as there is hope there is no way that I will passively let cancer beat me. Other resources that I will use would be Oncologists, medical, journals, and www.survivingmesothelioma.com. These resources will help me understand the effects of cancer, and the possible treatment options available to me.
To further my understanding I would do extensive research on my specific cancer, not just cancer in general. I would also find out the estimated survival, either months or years from now. Treatment for any cancer is harsh. There are several options such as chemo therapy, surgery, radiology. Talking to others with cancer will help me understand the effects of these options, but only doctors can tell me which option will help me in my battle. Both chemo therapy and surgery are hard on the body, but taking no action at all will ensure that my chances of survival and beating the cancer drop dramatically. Talking to Oncologists who specialize in cancer treatment would help me understand how these procedures function. These doctors can also explain how these procedures work, and how each of my options for treatment will help improve my chances. The Oncologists can help me find the best research material, in medical journals and books. The medical field is filled with options. If traditional procedures such as chemo therapy and surgery would have little or no effect on improving my chances, then I will look for other forms of treatment. I would research treatment trials for new procedures and medications, for example. Any treatment that could help me win this fight would be worth researching. Finding out how these treatments work, are performed, and their success rate would all be part of my research. Knowing the effects of the treatments on my everyday life with friends and family would also influence my decision. Knowing what the cancer is and how it will affect me, knowing the treatments available and how they can help me, this information is what I will base my treatment decision on.
My actions against cancer will be based on my understanding of the cancer and the available treatments. However the cancer will not be my only focus, I plan to keep close contact with my friends and family throughout this process. I plan to attend support group sessions and help the newly diagnosed understand cancer. As I rely on others who have already dealt with cancer, I must also be willing to mentor others.
If my condition changes, such as my physical strength and endurance, I may need to revaluate my choices. If the cancer is still growing and current treatment is not working, my plan will have to change. I will have to go through my steps again and stay current on knowledge, keep an open mind to new ideas, and to never give up. And when my cancer is in remission I would be able to revise my plan to maintenance and vigilance, instead of active battle.
I have had the privilege of knowing several people who are like Mr. James “Rhio” O’Connor. Among these are my Grandmother. My grandmother was a courageous woman, who did not believe in giving up. She was not ever going to let the cancer dictate how she lived. She traveled the world and never let the cancer win. When my Grandmother died she did not die of cancer, so she won her fight. Mrs. Yokem, a friend of mine, is also one of the courageous women I know who has beaten cancer. She got cancer many years ago and was not given much time to live. Mrs. Yokem never frowns and always looks for the best. Her optimism helped her defeat cancer and raise three girls after her victory. I want to be like them, like James “Rhio” O’Connor, my Grandmother, and Mrs. Yokem I would not want to sit back and wait for a cancer to kill me. I want to be like Mr. James “Rhio” O’Connor and find out everything I can. I want to be like my Grandmother and live the way I want, and to never let the cancer dictate how I live. I want to be like Mrs. Yokem and live with a smile on my face and find things to be happy about. I want to be there for my family and friends. I am not going to let cancer run my life, I want to find out all there is to know, and choose how I will fight. As the captain said in Galaxy Quest “Never give up. Never surrender.” I do not ever intend to give up or surrender.
By: Shook, Carolyn R.