Steele, Charletta – Surviving Mesothelioma

Steele, Charletta

The James “Rhio” O’Connor story reminded me of a woman that has touched my life. This influential woman worked as a full-time nurse in a local clinic. She was married with one child. At the age of 31, she experienced shortness of breath. After several test and doctors with no results, one day she was rushed to the hospital where a CT scan was performed. A mass was found in her chest. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The oncologist recommended heart surgery. The procedure was performed with no positive results. Then chemotherapy was tried. This left the poor woman tired, depressed, and without any hair. She had to stop work and could not perform her role as a mother. The cancer was still there. Throughout the whole process, the woman and her family turned to their faith in God. As the chemotherapy treatments got stronger, the family prayed harder. Even when she lost so much hair that she could not attend the church services any more. The woman was put on the prayer list at church so not only was her family but also her entire church family praying for her.

After, several weeks of treatment and prayer, the doctor ran another CT scan. To his amazement, the tumor was completely gone. He was so shocked that he called in a team of doctors to confirm his findings. It was true the woman’s cancer was gone. Immediately, the woman started crying and thanking the Lord. She believed truly that this was the power of prayer that healed her. She thanked God for the chemotherapy but believed that it was by His hand that she was cured. Unfortunately, a few weeks later, she became ill again. This time it was discovered she had a rare blood disease because of the chemotherapy treatment. The blood disease caused several deformities to the facial and neck area. The doctors quickly started treatment and in several months this disease was also cured. The woman was spiritually fulfilled and ready to tackle life again.

During this whole trial for the woman, there was her teenage girl going through this experience with her. This was me. I watched as my mother went through procedure after procedure. I helped her question the doctor’s when they prescribed something new or found a new symptom. I went to church and prayed for her every week. Since I was only 13 when she was first diagnosed, I had to grow up very quickly. This experience has impacted the rest of my life. I never make a life decision without reflecting on the power of prayer and the experience my mother went through. This is why I have enrolled in school to become a Surgical Technologists. I hope to eventually enroll into medical school and become a Surgeon. I would like to research new methods of treatment for these diseases because of the horrible impact that chemotherapy has on not only the patient but the entire family of the patient. My father and I had to take care of my mother in some of her darkest moments. I want to prevent that from happening to another teenage girl.

My research will focuses on the power of faith across the world. I would like to interview more people who have had similar experiences in their lives. Also, I would like to incorporate alternative methods of treatment like music treatments and relaxation therapies. There has been little research done in this field. I feel that we will find a cure for cancer in my lifetime but there also needs to be treatments that patients can live through. My mother taught that even in the darkest experiences there are opportunities to learn. My whole life is now focused on learning from her and others experiences so that I can improve the health care system.

My mother is still alive and influencing my decisions. She recovered so well that I now have a brother. She is back at work saving as many lives as she can. I hope that I can live up to her example. I know she is proud of me for going to school and encourages my goals. She has shown me that there is nothing that can hold me back and that God is on our family’s side.

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