Valencia, Reimus – Surviving Mesothelioma

Valencia, Reimus

The Cure: Living Life

“So how long do I have doctor?” “Well, you have been diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer that doesn’t seem to be slowing in its progression.” “How long?” “Given your condition and expected symptoms, I imagine a year, but they do have treatments and are in the process of inventing new ones that can delay the effects of the cancer.”

When I read the story of Rhio O’Connor and his diagnosis of mesothelioma, I was deeply filled with the utmost respect and gratitude. Mesothelioma is a disease that affects the mesothelium, a membrane that surrounds the organs and provides movement between the two layers. This disease causes the mesothelium cells to abnormally divide, spreading throughout the surrounding organs. With determination, O’Connor conquered his debilitating disease by outlasting his outcome, demonstrating the range of possibilities that a regular person can overcome. This experience encouraged him to support (initiate?) research that explores medical knowledge to fight future diagnoses of mesothelioma. Finally, his overall perception on life can offer advice to the general public– that life is not what you are dealt with, but what you make of it. More information on the life of Rhio O’Connor and his inspiring battle can be found on: www.survivingmesothelioma.com

Ever since the existence of humans, people have continually contemplated the meaning or purpose of life. While philosophers try to explain their abstract thoughts on our existence, though it may not always seem logical, others have taken the contrary route and decided to simply live it. Rhio O’Connor was neither of these types of people; instead, he possessed both characteristics. He illustrated that our life is very short and it is a gift that should not be misused (philosophers view). In addition, he lived everyday to the fullest, diligently researching a cure for his cancer, determined to beat the odds stacked against him (non-philosophers view). O’Connor exemplified the true meaning of life, while at the same time demonstrating how to live it – the path I would chose to follow if diagnosed with an overwhelming disease.

At the age of 20 and diagnosed with cancer, I would choose to spend the remainder of my life actually living it! People constantly say life is short, and I think all of us can attest to that common but accurate phrase. During my senior year of high school, juggling my studies, sports, and social life, I never realized that the past four years have been a blur. Now in college, constant studying and participating in various activities, it feels like a repeat of high school. That is why I would defer the choice to search for a cure and instead experience what life has to offer by means of traveling the world.

I know many people would try to find a cure or treatment that would extend their life, but in my case, what purpose would it serve me? At 20 years old with very basic understanding about many things, intently researching my disease would simply waste my time. Do I want to face challenges that may lead to a couple more months of living or would I rather experience what life has to offer? I know I may not be offering any medical contributions to society about possible treatments about my disease, and people might think of me as egocentric, but I will be providing a different type of knowledge – the meaning of life. I intend to explore the world and experience things ordinary people may never get to see in their lives. By traveling to unique and indigenous places I will learn and experience their culture. Every place and person I encounter will be an opportunity to exchange knowledge on what the meaning of life; eventually, I can formulate a thesis that people can reflect upon. Therefore, by the end of my journey I can say that I have actually lived my life to its potential just as the path O’Connor pursued.

I am aware there may be conventional treatments for my disease but they are associated with side effects and very slim chances of success. For my reason, I would rather receive the treatment that would offer me overall satisfaction in life by enjoying every moment of it without any regrets, and traveling the world would accomplish this. Many treatments for a disease will not always be completely successful, and are almost always linked to some discomforting side effect. For example, the radiation in chemotherapy constantly makes the person fatigued and weak. Surgery can remove the cancerous tumor, but may still have a chance to grow somewhere else. Finally, drugs can only provide so much relief but at what cost of the side effects. That is why I believe the best treatment is living life. That is how O’Connor defied all the odds of living one year and extended it to six years. Of course the combination of treatments he researched may have played a role; however, ultimately it was his willpower and mental strength that helped him overcame such odds.

When people receive news about life-threatening diseases, people can either take action and be assertive, or be passive and be stoic. Because life is so short, I would be assertive and want to experience what life has to offer through traveling. From the Great Wall in China to Victoria Falls in Africa to the Renaissance in Italy, I would love to experience them all. Just like O’Connor lived his life to its potential, I would choose to follow his path and live the remaining years of my life enjoying it without any lamentations.

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