In my lifetime I have often pondered what I would do in a life-threatening medical condition. Having lived through four of my close family members and friends facing such tasks, I take from their courage the same hope that Rhio had on survival form the deadly mesothelioma that eventually took his life. When I was younger my grandmother on my father’s side had a malignant melanoma tumor on her arm. Thanks to early diagnosis they were able to simply remove the tumor without chemotherapy or radiation. She survived, but with a crater-like gash in her shoulder as a reminder.

My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. She had a much harder battle, with complications of surgeries, and infections. However, I am proud to say she is also a survivor of cancer.

Two years later my best friend in high school was diagnosed with a rare skin cancer. She was only 16, and her cancer was on her face, directly above her left eye. Her battle was also a rough one, being so young and still in high school, having her looks, and other’s opinions to worry about. She went through countless operations, and wore an eye patch which covered the incision. Luckily for her, it was more superficial, yet she needed plastics done to reconstruct where the tumor had been removed. She is a survivor who now lives life to the fullest.

Lastly, my grandfather, who is also my very favorite person in the world, had a stroke in January of my freshman year of college, in the year 2008. Although he did not have cancer, he has put up one of the biggest fights imaginable. He was eager to recover and maybe pushed himself too much at times. Now, while still recovering, he is a “poster child” for stroke recovery. Thanks to rehab and his will to not give up.

So, as you can tell I have many fighters in my life. I too am a fighter. I am an optimistic person by nature, so I would look for the light. Thomas Edison’s quote, “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward,” encompasses my thoughts exactly. They may not have yet found a cure, but that doesn’t mean there is not one to be found! I believe in continuous trial and error, much like Rhio’s fight. You are only given one life to live, so why waste it?

I would conduct my fight, much like Rhio, I would spent hours in the library and speaking with doctors. Research of the cancer would be a must, knowing what causes it, how fast it progresses. I would research past cases of the cancer and see if any organization was also currently conducting research to which I could be of help.

Mesothelioma, according to my Medical Terminology class, is defined as a “tumor of the mesothelium”, from the suffix “-oma,” meaning tumor, and the word root “mesotheli,” meaning mesothelium. The Mesothelium is a protective lining which covers many internal organs within the body. So, one could imagine a tumor of that covering would cause major damage to the organs to which it’s suppose to protect. It is usually in correspondence with Asbestos.

Learning that the cancer is caused by exposure to Asbestos, I would continue there. Research of the compound itself, and how it affects the body. Next, I would continue in my research of past cases to see what has worked in the past and what has not. I would take any past successes to prolong the disease and further investigate how and why they helped.

I definitely would not give up. As I’ve stated, I’ve lived through some hard times of some incredible fighters. In October of 2001 my mother’s mother (Grandma) had an internal hemorrhage. She was not given the chance to fight due to a medication she was taking. The bleeding was too extensive and caused much damage. This is the reason that I plan to go into pharmaceutics, so I can fight for those who may not be given the opportunity to do so for themselves. But I will always look to the past fights of others to inspire my own journey.

**For more information on mesothelioma, and stories of other inspiring survivors please visit Cancer Monthly’s mesothelioma survivors’ website!

By: Walton, Sasha

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