If it were not for the miracle of modern medicine, I would probably not be alive today. In the year 2001 a routine mammogram revealed a calcified area deep in the chest wall which, when biopsied, proved to be malignant. A stage one carcinoma in situ deep against the chest wall was diagnosed. [That diagnosis came just three days before my wedding.] Even after the diagnosis, the doctor could not find the lump with a physical exam since it was so deep. If I had waited until I found the lump on my own or waited until I didn’t feel well to seek medical advice, it may have been too late. How thankful I am that I had the routine exam! The doctors were very confident they knew exactly what to do to get rid of this cancer and went after it with a vengeance and a confidence that I found very encouraging.
Their treatment methods were proven and prognosis very good that I would be alive in five years. Treatment consisted of a lumpectomy followed by radiation for six weeks and chemotherapy in pill form for five years. At a point early in the cancer treatment, my radiologist, who was ordinarily very mild-mannered and gentle, had a change of expression from a gentle and sympathetic look to a stern look and gave me a lecture of one word: FIGHT! Interpretation was left to me, but daily I remembered that lecture.
My fight began with my reaction to the medical treatments. The trouble with medical treatment is that medicines have so many potential side effects. There were many strange symptoms that developed when I was under treatment for cancer prevention that improved slowly when treatment was completed. Though I am sure I cannot be certain that the symptoms were caused by the drugs, the fact that the symptoms went away slowly after treatment was finished certainly causes me to suspect the cancer-fighting drugs and radiation. Optic neuritis was diagnosed when a large black area developed in the visual field of the left eye. Such a problem often develops into Multiple Sclerosis, which means multiple scarring, that appears as spots in the brain. In my case, the lesions in the brain became smaller over time after getting off the drugs. Though I have a permanent change in the vision of the left eye, active monitoring of the brain lesions is no longer necessary. I developed food allergies and had difficulty digesting food properly. Even foods that were supposed to be good for me, like cruciferous vegetables, were not tolerated by my system. Though I would lose my food sometimes within fifteen minutes after eating, no anatomical abnormalities were diagnosed. Another strange symptom was one the doctor predicted: the medicine caused hand pain so that I couldn’t even open a jar of food.
I have been blessed with doctors that have a passion to erase cancer from my life. They continue to monitor me closely and I am thankful for their confident help.
What about a cancer with less of a history of successful treatment? Mesothelioma is such a cancer. The cause of Mesothelioma is almost always exposure to asbestos. . Asbestos is a term for six naturally occurring silicate minerals which have long, thin fibrous crystals. These fibers can be separated into threads and woven. Inhaling asbestos can be toxic since asbestos is a carcinogen. It may be many years, often fifty, after exposure that symptoms appear. Cancer cells develop in the mesothelium, which is a protective lining that covers the body’s internal organs. What would I do if such a diagnosis was given me? How would I fight? In my case, my doctors knew exactly what to do. What if they do NOT know what to do? James “Rhio” O’Connor is a great example to me to FIGHT. I prefer to begin my fight with natural remedies and homeopathic methods since I had such a hard time with conventional medicine.
In my previous cancer experience my main fight was with my emotions. I determined to not let my emotions rule me. I tried to set them aside and put my hope in God. I considered emotions physically-based and not an indicator of my true state of being. My fight would be similar to what it was with breast cancer. Here is what I would do and what I AM doing to protect myself as much as I know how:
1. Get the best medical attention I am able to get. This means find a medical doctor who is at least sympathetic to natural ways of fighting the disease.
2. Eat wholesome foods
3. Eat very little fast food
4. Continue physical workouts – walking, weight training, and aerobics.
5. Continue usual responsibilities as much as possible.
6. Avoid Alcohol
7. Limit intake of red meat
8. Limit intake of white flour and sugar
9. Limit fat intake
10. Take immune-boosting supplements
11. Drink no soft drinks
12. Avoid caffeine which also includes no chocolate
13. Drink Essiac Tea
14. Avoid carcinogenic personal care products, particularly products containing propylene glycol and sodium laurel sulfate.
15. Keep as emotionally stable and cheerful as possible
16. Keep up with the latest medical advances as much as a layman can do.
17. Enlist the prayers of trusted friends and continue to put my life into the hands of God, through Jesus.
Now that I have been finished with cancer treatments, my strength is back. Knowing that if it were not for the help of modern medicine, I would probably not be alive today has given me even more incentive to live life to the fullest. I have returned to college to finish my Bachelor of Music Degree and hope to also obtain my Masters in Music Performance and Composition. I now have plenty of energy. Having had a cancer experience has just caused me to want to live my life to the fullest while I have the chance and to learn as much as possible. Fresno Pacific University is a wonderful school and I am continuously challenged to raise my sights in many areas.
One challenge in returning to school was more exposure to colds and flu germs. In addition to the regimen described above, I do the following: First, I gargle with salt water every morning and cleanse my nostrils with a Q-tip soaked in salt water. Secondly, I make a drink of a tablespoon of honey and apple cider vinegar in a cup of water. Along with extra vitamin C and other supplements, the sore throats are being kept under control.
Every day is a day of thanksgiving for me because I feel strong. After so many years of feeling weak, I now am able to take on new challenges and dust off some old dreams and see them come true. Hopefully I will not have to face another cancer attack. If I do, the inspiration of James “Rhio” OConnor will certainly be remembered.