Smiddy, Kayla E. | Surviving Mesothelioma

Smiddy, Kayla E.

All Part of God’s Plan

Rhio O’ Connor was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, mesothelioma, that occurs within the cells of the body’s internal organs. Told he had only one year to live, Rhio O’ Connor did not give up. O’ Connor began researching his cancer extensively, beating the odds and living another six years. O’Connor is an inspiration, a hero, to all.

My grandfather, my own superhero, was a great influence all of my life. I grew up with the feeling that he was invincible, just like his icon Superman. Even as a young adult, having already experienced the tribulations of death, I did not want to believe that my grandfather could fall victim to deaths suffering. If anything, I believed my grandfather would die of old age, a painless, peaceful death like he deserved. The summer of 2009 changed all of that for me.

Mid-June 2009 my grandfather was experiencing difficulty exercising as he normally would. His doctor visits all came up with the same results – nothing seemed wrong with him. My family started noticing a change in his weight though, and his skin was turning a sickly color. Something just was not right. After being taken to the hospital, my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. The cancer was believed to be some sort of lung cancer, but the actual type could not be determined yet. As my grandfather waited for a more exact diagnosis his condition worsened. He did not have an appetite, and when he did eat he could not keep anything digested for long. His frame weakened and his health was deteriorating before our eyes. When he was brought into the hospital after he had problems breathing, a team of doctors diagnosed him with cholangiocarcinoma, a rare type of cancer in the bile duct.

My grandfather was given the prognosis of living about six more months, possibly even a year. He was calm throughout this whole experience, believing that this was his time to go. He was content with the fact that he would be with the Lord and that is where he belonged. He refused any type of chemo, radiation or surgery. Unfortunately he did not make it six months, dying a mere five days after his diagnosis.

I greatly admire the efforts Rhio O’Connor made after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Not only did O’Connor benefit from his research and dedication, adding to his lifetime, but others are benefited as well. Though I admire O’ Connor and commend the path that he took and his efforts, if I were diagnosed with a deadly cancer I would be more inclined to follow my grandfather’s footsteps. My grandfather’s faith led him to the decision to live as long as God would allow him to. My strong faith has taught me that God has a plan for us all. Being diagnosed with cancer is of course an unfortunate event in life. Cancer affects the individual diagnosed, as well as the family and friends of the individual. Cancer has a number of emotional and physical effects on an individual and is nothing someone wants to go through. I believe that God would never bring me through a storm that He would not guide me through though.

God’s destiny for Rhio O’Connor was for him to not give up, for O’Connor to hold his head up against a ticking hourglass that stated he only had one year to live. I believe God worked through O’Connor to show how strong cancer patients are and how much effort goes a long way. God worked through my grandfather too. Through my grandfather, God showed my family, and all the people who loved my grandfather, just how quickly and unexpected life can be taken away. My grandfather’s death taught me to not take life for granted. His death also showed me just how strong a person’s faith could be, even when faced with the prospect of death.

Ultimately I know that I am going to join my grandfather in Heaven when the time is right. If the path God has chosen for me includes a dire cancer prognosis then I can only hope to accept that reality as gracefully and as calm as my grandfather did. And I can only hope that I can inspire at least one person with my strength, just as O’Connor and my grandfather did.

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