I recently learned about a basic pattern found in most narratives from around the globe-Joseph Campbell’s borrowed term monomyth, also known as the hero’s journey. One formulation of the journey proposes a structure that expands into eight (8) steps: the call to adventure, the road of trials, the vision quest, the meeting with the goddess, the boon, the magic flight, the return threshold and the master of two worlds. Joseph Campbell summarizes the meaning of monomyth in the introduction to The Hero with a Thousand Faces: “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder; fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won; the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” The hero’s journey is found in most mythical stories; but if we are brave, and debatably, fortunate enough to experience life outside of our comfort zone—we can discover the hero that often hides within each of us, and give back to the world’s people our lessons learned.
This narrative essay is in response to the James “Rhio” O’Connor book They Said Months, I Chose Years: A Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story. The book illustrates an informative table of contents ranging from self sufficiency to making treatment decisions regarding cancer management. Rhio’s solutions inspired me to embrace the magic and mystery of life, and to fully experience the gift of love with immeasurable urgency. The biggest challenge faced by this particular hero? Time. Albeit Rhio’s prognosis was less than a year to live, he survived 7.5 more years through his blind faith, unconditional love and an unwavering will to succeed. Developing his own therapeutic protocol and extraordinary intellectual efforts, redefining his self worth, and inventing a new way of thinking encouraged me to strive for a level of understanding necessary to survive and discover my inherent intrinsic value.
If I was diagnosed with a cancer of mesothelial tissue, associated especially with exposure to asbestos I would conduct my actions to mirror the measures taken by James Rhio O’Connor. His champion measures include his diligent research, strengthened will to survive, staying focused, driven, competent and motivated. In certain respects—time, mental fatigue, poor physical health, and cultural inertia—I have faced parallel challenges. Albeit deadlines, exhaustion, and negative majority opinions are common place in Western culture, there is no limit to what can be accomplished with proper training and positive thinking. I am a member of a generation born into the Information Age, and currently the Systems Era. This is an invaluable asset. Research is readymade, solutions plentiful, and life expectancy prolonged due to education and health. The problem is not in the discovery of remedies and alternative medicines—but which therapy is best for my physical and mental makeup, medical history, available resources and emotional support. That said, my research would be centered around my personality type, spiritual belief, tolerance, and careful evaluation.
According to the Jung, Meyers-Briggs personality type indicator I celebrate the ENTP profile. Extroverted, intuitive, thoughtful, and perceptive define my logical, innovative, curious and inventive mind-frame. Knowing my mind, body, and spirit is a key to success in battling a cancerous disease. Spirituality opposes material elements, and sparks faith and hope. Employing a sense of human spirit will fuel my focus in research and relentless studying. After much thought and meditating to achieve a higher level of consciousness I would undergo a chest X-Ray in the case of a Mesothelioma diagnosis. Integrative medicines coupled with chemotherapy are the next steps I would take regardless of survival statistics. I would utilize my own personal belief of destiny, and the self actualization theory.
Although life expectancy is limited, spending time listening and learning from cancer survivor groups would offer a wealth of information. “The Median Isn’t the Message,” by Stephan Jay Gould for Discover magazine, and “Surviving Mesothelioma and Other Cancers: A Patient’s Guide,” by Author Paul Kraus is a notable book of philosophy. I would look from within as without and follow the program of those before me by writing a web log of my personal convictions, research, battle, etc. To radiate my light and shed the gift of knowledge is the most important step. Of all the people diagnosed with cancer, the ones who submerged themselves in education, prayer, western treatment and chemotherapy survived the longest when they soundly, gracefully and gratefully shared their findings with the world by publishing the answers they found.