Thomas, DeAnna W. | Surviving Mesothelioma

Thomas, DeAnna W.

“Faith Without Works Is Dead.”

As the bible informs us that as the body without the spirit is dead, so, too is our faith without the corresponding works. Saying you have the faith is one thing but we’ve got to put in the work. As a woman over 40 returning to school to add to her undergrad degree to move into a new area of her career, it truly is work being added to my faith. My area of study choice is Health Care Management because I feel that today’s everyday person needs to have an experience, when opening the door to a practice, which provides confidence, comfort, and reassurance. Confidence that they will receive the best service possible, with the utmost respect and undivided attention made available to them. A level of comfort that allows them to sit back and relax because it is well known that vital signs are significantly impacted by a patient’s comfort level or the lack thereof. Reassurance that they will receive from every employee they come in contact with at a practice or hospital, that I plan to affiliate with, the highest level of respect and honor that is due to them.

Health care is an area that is very important to me for many reasons but mainly because of the health issues that have affected my family. My family’s lives have been invaded by heart disease, mental disease, and the most invasive and deadly of them all, cancer. My paternal family’s decisions to embrace lifestyles that included the “pleasures” of nicotine provided life ending results of lung cancer that has reduced a significant amount of my immediate family’s population. And most recently, a cancer diagnosis invaded my life in a way that I didn’t see coming. My younger sister was recently diagnosed with Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma which has altered not only her lifestyle but also her outward, physical appearance. This diagnosis has changed many things in her life because of its invasive nature which I can only observe from the outside looking in but I feel enhances my role as that of supporter, prayer partner, encourager, and shoulder to lean and cry on.

While serving in this role for my sister, I was introduced to the life of Mr. James “Rhio” O’Connor through my search for college financial assistance. It peaked my interest because he, too, allowed the spirit within that God blessed us with to not accept the doctor’s report but to believe the report of the Lord which tells us that “…by His stripes we are healed” . Mr. O’Connor’s mesothelioma diagnosis came with it a life term of one year. This disease, a cancer that affects the mesothelium membranes that surround our internal organs, has been believed to have its origin from asbestos exposure. As with any cancer diagnosis, doctors only know to recommend treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery that not only target the cancer cells but often times other healthy cells. These recommended treatments give no hope for long life. For example, on the website www.survivingmesothelioma.com, I was struck by the honesty given in the following quote which supports the reality of a doctor’s inability to make unattainable promises after a cancer diagnosis.

For some physicians, these therapeutic gains are not impressive. For example, some have written, “For the treatment of mesothelioma, there is little evidence that current therapies (chemotherapy, radiation, surgery) provide significant benefit for survival or quality of life. [R]adical treatments, occupying the 3 months after diagnosis, can take up the best 3 months that the patient might have had. Malignant mesothelioma has largely defeated treatment…

Just like Mr. O’Connor, my sister and I went on an all-out, unrestrained search for answers, treatment alternatives and lifestyle changes that will give her the upper hand on this diagnosis. We, as a people, must cease taking the first opinion of someone else and do our own research to not only learn for ourselves but be a frontrunner for others. It is my unabashedly and unashamed feeling that the first search should always begin with our manual for life – the Bible. As we would go to an instruction manual on how to repair appliances, vehicles, etc. we, too, should go to the God-given manual which will not only give instructions but directions if we “study to show ourselves approved”. As the bible tells us that every word contained in it is God-breathed and inspired , so is every tool, technology, and resource in the world today if we use them with His direction. Any tool not used for its original intention is subject to abuse. So it is to our benefit to use the tools that God has provided here on earth with His original purpose in mind. Mr. O’Connor apparently took this and many other alternative routes on his six year extended life journey with the assistance of those doctors who shared his vision of life beyond the diagnosis. And with this important decision and work, along with his faith, he was rewarded with longer life.

Mr. James “Rhio” O’Connor and my sister serve as my inspirations in this journey I am making to not accept the initial answers given to me in my journey but to seek out alternatives and other resources that will benefit me because I am my best cheerleader. So like Mr. O’Connor and my sister, it is my goal to add the work along with my faith as I continue on this journey of higher education where I know the end destination is success.

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