Tyler, Calvin James | Surviving Mesothelioma

Tyler, Calvin James

We know so much, and yet so little. We have found cures to ailments which we don’t understand. And there are sicknesses which we do understand yet elude effective treatment. Cancer, more or less, falls into the latter of these two groups. It is because of this that heroes, such as James O’Conner, manage to fight their cancers through combinations of extensive research and a burning flame of hope which refuses to be extinguished in even the bleakest situations.

I hope that I would have the stamina and power to join the ranks of men such as Rhio who fight until the end. I do know that I would attempt to duplicate his efforts in many ways. One of the most important decisions, I believe, that Rhio made was to decline the use of chemotherapy. While this is a largely used weapon in the war on cancer, it is akin to dropping a nuclear bomb on a spy within your nation’s borders. Yes, you will most likely exterminate the spy, but you will also wreck havoc on your own citizens. Similarly, chemotherapy may extend cancer patients lives and limit the cancer’s growth and existence. But, its side effects often outweigh these benefits. By avoiding chemotherapy, Rhio was able to keep his mind sharp and free of the dulling pain and the treatments utilized to counteract the decline in quality of life.

I know I won’t always have my mom, but I will always have her stubbornness and determination. She is a woman who loves to learn. She started her career as a pilot and also flew aerobatics. She had four children and stayed home to raise us. When we all were in school she went back as well. After an indescribable amount of work, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin Madison’s Pharmacy School. She has used her determination and infallible curiosity to help many people with their medicines and treatments. The time I have spent with her has shown me that while years of school are exceptionally helpful, they are not necessary.

Through rigorous research anyone can become an expert in their field of interest. I think Rhio is a perfect example of this. While his educational background does not indicate a strength in cancer treatment, he quickly adapted to his unfortunate situation and absorbed all there was learn. While I have not been thrust into any situations nearly as difficult as terminal illness, I believe I would proceed in a similar fashion.

My field of choice is economics. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve loved playing with numbers. This has served me exceptionally well when observing risk ratios and cost benefit analysis. In this way economics plays an enormous role in every decision everyone makes every day. In medical treatment economics has its place as well. In the case of choosing whether or not to take a drug, we often don’t actually know why the drug does the things it does. It’s more that they have a series of side effects and some of them are good. The most effective way to determine whether the drug should be used is to look at the statistics of other users. What was the fatality rate? What is the likely hood of negative side effects? What is the success rate of the drug? What is the success rates of alternate drugs? In the case of chemotherapy it is surprising anyone utilizes this treatment. It is troubling to inspect why doctors prescribe this treatment so commonly despite the disproportionate costs to the potential benefits. While profit motivation seems cynical, to not question the motivation would be reckless.

My faith in a higher power comes from both science and observation (a science in itself!). I do believe that there is a power in positive thoughts and love. Studies suggest that when people believe there is a reason to live they tend to hold on longer. An economist did a study on the death rate before and after major holidays and found that people tended to hold on to life as best they could to see another holiday, especially religiously based ones (Christmas was the highest). But studies aside, it is evident, through the random acts of kindness and uncontrollable feelings of compassion towards people we don’t know, that we are all somehow connected. By knowing this, and remembering that there is an entire world which cares for you and loves you, we have the power to harness this positive energy and turn it into a sustaining life force.

For every terrible thing in the world, there is a miraculous one which is stronger by tenfold. People like Rhio show us this in the way they turn painfully negative events into a reason to become stronger. We all fight battles, each in varying magnitudes. It is not the victory which counts, it is the blood, sweat, and tears we spill getting there.

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