Things start to seem a little off or maybe you find a lump that shouldn’t be there. Just to be safe, you go to the doctor, but everything will be fine. You’re sitting on the table in the doctor’s office and your doctor has a grim look on their face. You have a dangerous and advanced form of cancer and your days are numbered.
What do you do? You never know unless you are in this situation. Trying to imagine myself having to deal with this is near impossible. You always hear about Sara’s aunt or Matt’s grandfather and their cancer, but how often do you think about the decisions and emotions they must be dealing with? I’ll admit, hearing about these people usually evokes sadness and sympathy, but I really never give the appropriate thought or realize how serious and awful a tragedy it really is. The only time I’ve had to deal with something like cancer with someone close to me, I was much too young to understand. But faced with the “what would you do?” question, I think the following would be my plan of action.
I am among what I’m sure is the majority of people in their twenties and see myself as invincible. I would be hopeful of recovery because, well, of course this won’t kill me, right? I’ve been healthy and safe my whole life. But something like this coming out of nowhere would definitely be a wakeup call. I know I wouldn’t accept it though. There is no way I could die. I have to get married and have kids and a career. That just wouldn’t be fair. It couldn’t happen.
I would do all I could. I would visit multiple doctors and ask about any information they could give me or experience they had with my illness. I would ask about every possible treatment and every benefit and negative side-effect I would experience with them. Then I would spend endless hours in the library, online, and talking to other people who have experienced these treatments. Any shred of information would help.
What I also think I would take advantage of is counseling. Even though you can talk to people close to you, sometimes it is beneficial to talk to someone without any ties to your situation. Just letting everything out, all of the fear, anger, and frustration, would be good for you. It may not help physically, but it definitely would mentally. It would be a way to clear my mind so I could focus more on battling the cancer.
Another thing to look into would be statistics. Beyond the initial refusal that this could happen to me, I would want to be realistic and know what I am up against. As a math major, I’m all about probability. What are the odds a certain treatment plan will have successful results in my specific situation? Once you know these figures, you can make an educated decision, one that would lead to the best possible outcome.
But what if these figures are less than optimistic and the cons seem to outweigh the pros for every option? I know that I would not put myself through a process that would offer me little to nothing or make me feel even worse. There is no way. I would rather spend my last years, months, days being happy and loving the people I love. That being said, this doesn’t mean I would just be waiting to die. While trying to enjoy what life that I was blessed with, I would still fight. I would never give up looking for a new cure or treatment as long as I was still alive. There are new advances in medicine every day. And if everyone just gave up, nothing would ever get done for people in my place in the future. That would be a shame. With the nature of medicine and science being what it is today, it would be silly to think there is no way doctors would ever have anything new and more beneficial to offer.
Obviously, the idea of my life being cut short would be intensely terrifying and stressful for myself, but what I think would be most painful is worrying my family and friends. No parent wants to outlive their child or see a childhood friend pass away. I would never want to be a source of their pain or a burden. I would fight to keep away any sadness they could possibly experience. This would be my motivation.
A man named Rhio O’Connor was faced with just this situation. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly cancer, and was given only a year to live. But instead of giving in, he dedicated himself to researching his cancer and creating his own treatment plan with advisement from his doctors. He was able to think outside the box and was rational and fully educated about his therapy. With all of his dedication, he was able to survive for many years. He is proof that with a good attitude and persistence, you can fight against cancer, as difficult as it may prove to be. To learn more about mesothelioma and its diagnosis, treatment, and survivors, visit the Cancer Monthly’s authoritative mesothelioma survivors’ website, www.survivingmesothelioma.com.