Valley, Joshua | Surviving Mesothelioma

Valley, Joshua

James “Rhio” O’Connor was given some terrible news from a doctor. He had been given a year to live after being diagnosed with cancer. He was given the chance to live most of his life before he became another victim of cancer. Some of us aren’t as lucky to live out most of our lives before falling prey to man’s greatest nemesis. Cancer comes in many forms, attacks different parts of the body, and does not discriminate. Man or woman, black or white, young or old, cancer is an equal opportunist. The silent killer that slowly and painfully reduces it’s host to a shallow shell of their former self. The treatments for this plague are numerous, and some have affects on the human body that sometimes are worse than the disease itself. Through determination and research, James lived past his life expectancy and surprised those who him.

I am 34, married with children, and fortunate enough to be free from cancer thus far. Some are not as lucky. More and more, younger people are cut down in their youth due to cancer. Faced with this situation, many people have approached and handled it differently. Some choose to roll over and give up. I can’t say that I blame them. Cancer has a high death rate and is all but impossible to defeat. Some though, choose to fight and carry on their life. Death is the only thing promised to those that live. It’s been the cycle of man since man’s creation. The only thing that differentiates one soul from another is how you live and make use of the time granted on earth. Do you sulk or endure? Do you give up or fight? Do you selfishly punish those around you or use your curse to benefit others?

If I were told that my life was to be cut short, I would be angry. Angry that I haven’t achieved my life goals. Angry that my time with my friends and family was to be interrupted. Angry that I cannot do anything to change my situation. After the initial shock had passed, I’d get back to what I do best. Making the best of what I do have. I would look into various treatments and try to get advise from the few survivors of cancer, or any other “terminal” conditions. I have heard “ghost stories” about chemotherapy and other treatments. Some say that the treatment is far more painful than the condition itself. A rock and a hard place if you ask me. Radiation is not a choice I would easily make either. Radiation causes cancer, so to me, it’s like putting out a fire with gas. One thing I definitely would pursue is medicinal marijuana. It is used as pain and stress relief by many. Although the US government has made it illegal, it is very beneficial. Maybe if they could tax it, it would be more accepted. That won’t happen because they make tax dollars by imprisoning people in possession of it. It has been used by various cultures for centuries. Yet our government would rather you take harmful treatments and addictive drugs from your local pharmacists.

Aside from treatments options, my one known objective would be to live my life to the fullest with what time I had left. I would spend time with my wife and kids. I would spend time with friends and family. I would try to do things I’ve always dreamed of doing. One thing I refuse to do, is milk those around me with sad stories. We all have to go, no one is above death. I can’t see dragging others down with my problem. I would want my kids to remember me as me, not the “dead” me. I wouldn’t want to be America’s new sob story, using my affliction for sympathy. I think that is a selfish act. “Poor me” as if I’m the first, only, and last victim. Life happens, death happens.

Celebrate what time you do have. Use what you do have left and be positive around those around you. They already know the situation, no need to push it in their face with every breath. Continue to fight, but don’t punish your supporters. Don’t use your condition to milk others. Your legacy is what will remain after you’ve gone, cancer or not. Give your family what’s left and live the best you can. A positive mental attitude is important as well. If you give up, your already dead.

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