Life is a Choice
Death seems so far away when you are young and healthy, but death can come at any time. At twenty-three years of age, pregnant with my second daughter, I was awaiting results from a biopsy. I never imagined that I would have to worry about dying at such a young age; after all, I had the rest of my life planned. I would be the best mother, wife, and later, I would be the coolest grandma. I planned to be a famous researcher, travel the world, and maybe write a book. However, while eagerly anticipating the biopsy results my plans were put on hold. The two week wait felt like an eternity, and the sleepless nights were spent educating myself on the cancer, the causes of the cancer, and all the possible treatments. Like James Rhio O’Connor I was ready to fight this battle. So, who is Mr. Rhio O’Connor, and what would I do if I was in his shoes?
Mr. Rhio O’Connor was a determined and intelligent individual who refused to die at the early age of sixty-one when he was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma starts in the chest, and the cause of the cancer is exposure to asbestos. Pleural mesothelioma is responsible for approximately seventy percent of mesothelioma cases (Suzuki, 2001). The survival rate for patients with this cancer is less than one year; however, Mr. Rhio O’Connor did not take his doctor’s advise to go on a vacation, then come home to die. Contrary to his doctors prognosis, he had faith that he would survive for longer than a year. Even though the tumor could not be surgically removed and chemotherapy would not be beneficial, Mr. Rhio O’Connor did not give up. He used all the resources available to him and extended his life by many years.
While waiting for my biopsy results, I knew that chemotherapy and radiation would only make my life more miserable, I would not let the cancer take over my life. Therefore, like Mr. Rhio O’Connor I made a plan to conquer this deadly disease. First, my attitude towards life would not change, and I would be the same motivated, enthusiastic, lively mother, wife, and daughter. Second, I would make informed decisions about my treatment by conducting my own research on the web, in libraries, and by seeing a variety of multidisciplinary specialists. I would consult with oncologists, thoracic surgeons, pulmonologists, nutritionists, psychologists, and my family physician. In addition to seeing different specialists, I would try to get advice from former survivors of cancer. Last, and most important, the support received from my family and friends would motivate me to apply the knowledge I acquired to my every day life.
Mesothelioma may be treated with chemotherapy and radiation, but if the consequences of the treatment outweighed the positive outcomes I would consider many other options. The body is a not a separate entity and many small pieces inside of it function in unity. Thus, in order to fix a problem one must address the whole body and not isolate just one part. Mr. Rhio O’Connor applied this principle and added years to his life, and just like him I would do the same. I would improve my diet by eliminating hormone-induced meats and reducing my sugar intake. In addition, the foods which I consume should be mostly organic and washed properly. Further, adding vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, herbs, and other supplements could improve my chances of survival. Also, detoxification of my body may help cleanse the toxins in my body and improve the functioning of my immune system and further aid in a longer lifespan. In addition to the physical health, the psychological health also needs to be addressed because mental and emotional health effect the physical health. There are many other options other then the traditional medicinal approaches for the possible treatment of cancer, and with the aid of a professional clinician these approaches may be very beneficial.
Mr. Rhio O’Connor inspired me to never give up and always be informed and educated about the obvious and not so obvious options. When I was waiting for the my biopsy results, I was just introduced to the first chapter of a battle with cancer. Thank God my chapter ended there, and I received a phone call from my doctor saying the growth was benign. I know that my risk for cancer is slightly higher than the average person, but I also know that I can take steps to prevent cancer and other disease. Every action has a reaction, and the choice to live in the face of death was an action taken by Mr. Rhio O’Connor. He made the choice to prevent his death at age sixty-one and this resulted in adding almost an extra decade to his life. He is an example to myself and others of how we should make informed choices because what we do impacts the quality and longevity of our lives.
Suzuki, Y. (2001). Pathology of human malignant mesothelioma:preliminary analysis of 1,517 mesothelioma cases. Industrial Health, 39.