Spring in the air, birds singing, blue skies, the ideal weather, not bad for the month of April. Today I have my yearly medical examination, perfect day for it with spirits high and loving the world. I also decided to take the day off from work and enjoy myself after the examination and do something for myself, a rare treat.
The doctors took tests and checked me thoroughly, feeling great and without any thought of something being wrong I went and enjoyed the day. After ten days I received a telephone call from my doctor asking me to come by the office that same day, which sent a red light signal to my head. Was something wrong? Did they find something in the tests?
That afternoon I went to the doctor and was given the most shocking news, not anticipated at all, you have Mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos, which is used for insulation and other building materials, I was employed in a building company at the time. The doctor gave me all options opened to me which included intensive chemotherapy, radiation, of course the chances of long term survival were limited, and in fact if I had a year to live I would be fortune. Stunned and in a dream state I left his office returning home with only one thought in mind, I will fight this disease and I will beat it for as long as I can.
I informed my immediate family on the diagnosis and what I was told, together with them we decided to find out all we could about this cancer and start a counter-attack against it. This is where my story begins:
The first thing I did was check on the internet everything I could find out about mesothelioma. I learnt the cells of the mesothelioma become abnormal and divide without control or order, they assault and damage tissues and organs and can spread to all parts of the body. I read and researched every article and from all the information given, the most helpful and encouraging was www.survivingmesothelioma.com. This web site gave me hope to at least explore different options and different treatments. I contacted people through this web site and although I knew my time was limited I also knew that I may be able to extend the time I had left and savior this time with family and friends. There was even a slight chance that I would be able to kill this disease and beat all odds against me, other people had done it, at least to extend my life for the longest time possible.
My next step was to find different treatments and to learn how, with the help of professional assistance, to change my diet, way of thinking and faith in G-d. As I believe that when a person is born his life is already planned for him, I knew that this was my path and there was a reason for my contacting this disease and that whatever to final outcome, it was up to me to learn and teach others from it. The most inspiring person that helped me accept and fight this disease was James Rhio O’Connor, who I contacted after reading his book and learning what a wonderful and strong person he was. He not only gave me information about treatments, diets, vitamin supplements but was the most remarkable person for moral support. He taught me not to dwell on the cancer, but to learn to live with it, to accept it and to go forward in my life with the knowledge I obtained and to conquer every hurdle on the way.
I also contacted someone in Australia, who has fought the odds and is winning this battle; he explained that not only medical treatment, but mind and spirit play a very important part of survival, with all these together one can prolong the outcome of any situation.
Today several years later I am still fighting the battle of survival, but so far have the upper hand, it isn’t easy and the treatments are tiring and difficult, but the determination is there. I keep to my special diet and take all supplements available, especially vitamins. I also changed my physical and spiritual behavior and this seems also to help.
I guess the lesson I have learnt from this is really to accept what is given to you, but not without a fight, determination and belief to be the winner, anything is possible. To embrace life and what it has to offer and never to take anything for advantage, it is all in our hands to change the outcome. Faith is a very important part of it and we can both throw our arms up and give up or we can believe in ourselves and God and change the outcome to survive, or at least to extend the time given us on this earth.
By: Van Straten, Sheera