The Greatest Gift
What is the greatest gift that you could offer loved-ones? Many people may choose to offer material treasures, vacations, or wealth. Would you include strangers on your gifting list? Would you be as generous to those you do not know? Now, what if you had cancer? What would you be willing to give now? You may feel as though you have nothing left to give of value to others. You become focused on how many more precious breaths may still be within you. You may be filled with dread and wondering about the fate of your family, your job, and your home and how you can take advantage of the ticking- away moments before you are gone.
Life in itself is a death sentence. As each multi-cellular organism will each live, each one will later cease to live. Every multi-cellular organism has the ability to develop cancer. Cancer is not corrosive, as its name implies, but rather are mutated cells which divide and multiply out of control. The natural mechanism to keep cell growth in-check is “broken” and this is the primary defective unit present in all cells that come from them. Eventually there will come a point when organs contain too many of these mutated cells resulting in preventing the organ’s ability to effectively function. Although it may appear that a “cure” would be a matter of simply solving the problems of diagnosing uncontrolled cell growth, halting existing growth, or to effectively guarantee it never to return from remission, the solutions for cancer have not yet been found.
I know I am destined to get cancer. I have had several relatives perish, worked in environments in contact with known carcinogens, and also inhaled second-hand tobacco smoke. I do not live in fear, but with realistic expectations, therefore I eat healthy and maintain a moderately active lifestyle. When I receive my diagnosis, I understand that I will receive a prognosis which may include an estimated expiration date for my life.
I cannot leave the world without giving a gift in gratitude for all of the wonderful memories I possess as a result of my past experiences. This gift I give to everyone and anyone, known and unknown. I will research potential cures and treatments more actively then a college student finishing a hundred –page term-paper at the last possible minute, to the last possible moment. I will be willing to try unconventional and innovative ideas, treatments, and enter experimental clinical trials. Cancer will not be cured by following the status quo, but by taking chances to prove or disprove potential treatments. The cure will come, but in order to find it, it will take those willing to go outside the confines of that tightly-sealed cardboard box which contain the current, conventional, and often ineffective treatments. With each person who is willing to give a “new idea” a chance increases of the odds that the answer or “cure” will finally be revealed.
People, who have ventured outside the prognosis, have offered hope and inspire courage to others who are recently diagnosed. James “Rhio” O’Connor could have accepted the words of his physician, but he did not. He had been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, a cancer of the membrane surrounding the lungs and lining the chest cavity which is commonly associated with exposure to asbestos (for more information, please contact: www.survivingmesothelioma.com ). Rhio had one year to live, but chose to spend that year researching options, consulting researchers, and evaluating various treatments to develop his own personal therapeutic protocol. His work resulted in prolonging his life six years beyond his estimated prognosis. “Rhio’s” gift was to give strength to those who would need guidance and courage to seek out new treatments and to explore other options. In his book, They said months. I chose years! A Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story, Rhio shares his experiences in his quest to see beyond the expected outcome. He sends his message of self sufficiency, positive outlook, and proactive living to inspire those who need that support and do not know what they should do when the doctors are unable to do anything. I aspire to offer such a selfless gift to others as James “Rhio” O’Connor has left in his encouraging words.
Everyone can contribute to finding the solution; everyone can give a gift to those who have been touched by cancer. Innovations in detecting and treating cancer have a ways to go. Someday, we will be able to detect the gene responsible for causing cancer, discover creative detection methods to quickly diagnose cancer, and quickly eradicate tumors before the blood supply becomes established (angiogenesis) to feed, grow, and spread the mutated cells that lead to metastasis. Someday we may be able to completely prevent this disease from taking our mothers, fathers, siblings, children, or our friends. Perhaps we can find that cure together through donating funds for research today, by becoming the researchers of tomorrow, or by becoming the subjects of research opportunities if we contract this disease. Please reach out and contact cancer research organizations to offer your great gift to someone who needs it. I am sure they will be ever-so-grateful.