Wiley, Ariana – Surviving Mesothelioma

Wiley, Ariana

I have never been diagnosed with cancer; I don’t have a family history of cancer or some life changing story. I really don’t know anyone who has had the disease. The only cancer that I have seen has been on television, actors on doctor shows or movies. I have seen the people lose their hair and the hardships they face. The struggles of their friends as well as family and how their lives completely change forever. The closest experience I’ve had is the time I almost thought I had breast cancer; it was the absolute scariest feeling in the world. I remember going to the doctor, I was about thirteen and my doctor found a lump. I remember panicking, having this terrible feeling in the bottom of my stomach. I didn’t know what to do or more or less what breast cancer was. I just remember thinking so this is it; I’m going to die soon. I absolutely had no idea what a struggle it is or how life changing it can be. My doctor gave me all these pamphlets and papers; I was terrified and had no idea what I was going to do. It did turn out that my lump went away and I didn’t have cancer of the breast after all. I remember how relived I was, my stomach stopped twisting and the knots as well as the scary feeling was gone. I think about my experience compared with all those people who have actually had cancer. The grief, and the worrying, all their stories and families, and endless pain they suffer, people such as James “Rhio” O’Connor and I can’t help but feel bad for them.

If given a dire cancer prognosis I have absolutely no idea what I would do, because as people we don’t think that this could happen to us. We take our lives for granted and complain about the little things wishing our life was better. It isn’t until it’s too late that we want to change, want to do something about our lives when the opportunity was present all along. I myself am one of these people, if I was told that I had one year to live I would panic, it would be hard to swallow, it would be unbelievable, unbearable even. If given a prognosis I would appreciate my life a lot more, It would make me look at life a lot differently and I’d spend my last year doing everything possible to turn my life around.

This is what Mr. O’Connor helped me realize. Life is too short, it is too short to give up, you can make it and it’s not too late. Mr. O’Connor was faced at fifty two years of age with a deadly cancer called mesothelioma. For many of you who don’t know what this is, it is known as a form of cancer that is linked to asbestos, which makes up the lining of the heart, chest, or abdomen. Instead of taking this hardship to heart Mr. O’Connor used this as he calls it blessing to turn his life around. He refused to settle and give up after being told he only had a year left to live and turned a negative into a positive. How many people do you know would do the same things that he did? He completely did a 360 by changing his diet, actually becoming a vegetarian, adjusted his lifestyle and tried to have the most positive attitude possible, he knew it wasn’t his time to go that he could use this time to help others. This is how he beat the cancer his attitude, his determination, knowing that he could make it no matter what happened. He knew that this wasn’t it for him and the most important thing he did was give people an opportunity to learn about his experience, to read his story and just be inspired from it.

I myself am greatly inspired and truly touched, it makes me realize how blesses I really am. If faced with cancer I would first start by looking online at the different options; I would also look for people who had the same situations and what they did. Those experiences I would learn from and use to grow from as well. I would talk to my doctor about the options, discuss details with my family and so many other things would go into play. I would need to look at the cost, the side effects and which treatment overall would work better for me. I would need to consider which option I feel the most comfortable with and how it would impact me. I would want to maybe talk to someone, someone I could confide in and that would make me feel more comfortable.

Lastly, I would want to inform people about my situation so that they also know that it could happen to them, it could happen to anyone. I would want to raise money to help others who have cancer maybe start a donation fund anything to make people more aware. Being so young and getting cancer would in fact be heartbreaking all the dreams and goals I have I would be fearful I wouldn’t have time to accomplish them. I wouldn’t have time to do the little things people do everyday like get married or have a family. I wouldn’t look at this as a negative thing I would look at it as a positive thing as a wakeup call, a chance to change for the better a chance to make a difference.

After putting myself in the same situation and looking at my life now I realize there is a lot more I could do a lot more I could change. There are many things I take for granted. I am most glad to have learned from Mr. O’Connor story, that life is too short and each and every person had the power to make a difference no matter what hardships they are faced with. No matter how big or small you are. I can say that Mr. O’Connor has truly done that for me after writing this essay, I can no longer say I know nothing about cancer, or no one who has been diagnosed with the disease. I know James “Rhio” O’Connor and his story and if there is one thing I’ve gotten out of all this is that you can touch someone’s life without even knowing it.

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