Real Survivor

Mesothelioma proves to be a devastating disease that many people are unaware of its cause and severity. It is a rare form of cancer in which malignant cancerous cells are found in the mesothelium, and they divide without control and attack surrounding tissues and organs at an overwhelming rate. Mesothelium is a lining that covers and protects the body’s internal organs. The first layer of mesothelium directly surrounds the organ whereas the other forms a sac around it. They secrete lubricating fluid that allows moving and gliding of the organs, such as expanding and contracting of the lungs. There are three different types of mesothelium membranes. The peritoneum is the tissue that covers most of the organs in the abdominal cavity, the pleura is the membrane that surrounds the lungs and lines the wall of the chest cavity and the pericardium covers and protects the heart.

Mesothelioma can affect either sex, female or male and is not picky with age either. Usually the disease is developed over time from being exposed to asbestos. Some symptoms include shortness of breath and pains in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleura are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include weight loss and abdominal pain and swelling due to a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.

Any person who has had cancer is a real survivor in my eyes and the story of how James Rhio O’Connor overcame his diagnosis, showed how strong and determined he was to beat this disease by promoting his health for over six years. Everyone should take the chance to do research and develop their knowledge to greater levels about their bodies. If I were to generate a disease such as this I feel I would react in quite the same way. Giving up is not an option. How would you ever reach your goals in life if you were just to give up and not work hard to achieve them? I deeply believe Mr. O’Connor was setting an example for his family. He wanted them to know that he was a fighter and he was not going to let mesothelioma take his life away so quickly. I believe by taking treatment into his own hands and by changing his diet, practicing mind-body medicine, and realizing there would be difficult times but that with support he could overcome, he sustained life to an age of 69.

This is actually very inspiring to me because my grandfather, who was diagnosed with cancer, like Mr. O’Connor chose the path of no chemotherapy, radiation or surgery and fought this battle on his own for six years. He changed his lifestyles and stayed strong because he was the rock of our family and ever since that day I saw the changes and the amount of time it allowed him to stay with us, I decided if I were to ever develop cancer I would follow the same path. Although he didn’t access the computer, he would ask my family and me to print off articles for him to read and review. He considered all of his options but he chose the path that he felt would benefit him. He took on the scary disease with a smile. Never once did he give up.

If I had received information that I now would have to fight a significant battle with cancer, of course I would be very upset, but I would not let it notoriously consume my life. I would find information through my doctor, through books, and the internet, and I would find others who were battling the same disease. We would help each other to overcome the discomforting effects of the disease. Support plays a big role in finding the confidence and encouragement within yourself. I would definitely want to stay informed, and I would take the steps necessary to stay as healthy as possible even with the disease. I realize that there would probably have to be changes that would take place in my life but I would be willing to do anything. The way I see it I would be fighting not only for myself but also for those who I care about. We were not put on this earth to just glide through we are here for a purpose, and sometimes that purpose causes you to work a little harder. Because of this I would hope to maybe even be able to educate others like Mr. O’Connor did throughout his cross with cancer. It takes courage, bravery, and love to overcome a challenge such as this but through the work of people such as Rhio O’Connor more people are able to have a better understanding of their disease and are more easily able to cope and handle their disease decisions.


By: Sutherland, Kirsten

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