Never Give Up- by Samantha Rossi, a Red Cross Youth

Sixteen years ago, my grandpa was diagnosed with cancer. His throat had been hurting a while, but he thought it was just a sore throat. By the time he went to the doctor’s it was stage three cancer. He went through a few rounds of chemo, but it wasn’t really helping, so he decided to stop and finish his days with his family and friends. My grandpa was the only male figure in my family growing up and acted as my father. This is a loss that I suffered earlier on in life and still feel today.

 

Four months ago, my grandma’s brother was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The cancer is pretty far along. He went and saw doctors in San Francisco for treatment options. He has a son in high school who is a great wrestler. His motivation is to be there for his son. He is currently going through radiation and radiation implants.

 

A month ago I received a call and I was informed that a very good family friend was diagnosed with cancer. He had been suffering lower back pain and went to see a doctor.  The doctors thought it was his lower vertebrae disc and sent him to physical therapy. Unfortunately they were wrong and when he went back, the doctors sent him for more tests and found the caner. By this time, the cancer had spread all over this body. There was some present in his brain, back, leg, and liver. He went through one round of chemo therapy and then opted to stop. He made it to the birth of his granddaughter and then passed away one week later.

 

Due to recent events, I have found myself remembering the past, more specifically my grandpa. I remember a lot about when he was sick, but the part that I still struggle with is how surprised I was when he passed. The night before he passed away, I was with him and he was in the best of moods and I swear I thought he was getting better. The next day I was brought back down to reality when he had passed away. I was in denial because he was so upbeat and I thought he was winning the battle against cancer. Thinking back, even when he was going through chemo, you could never tell that my grandpa was sick. He was always in a good mood, continued his daily routines, and was still the jokester in the family. He came to all my basketball games and events. He didn’t yell as much, but he was still there supporting me. I realize now, that he lost the battle to cancer, but he did not let the cancer take his personality and his last few weeks. He got cancer, but took full advantage of the time he had and went out on his own terms.

 

Seeing many family members and friends fight this battle, has also made me think about what I would do if I were in their shoes. Do you fight the fight? Or do you live out the time you have? I would do both. Seeking out treatments would be the medical steps I would take to fight cancer, but at the same time I would have an approach like my grandpa did and live life to the fullest. I’m an athlete and one of the many sayings I’ve heard over the years, is “never give up.” This would be the attitude that I have and that I think everyone should have if they have to fight cancer. Family and friends are there to help you through it as well as many doctors, clinics, and cancer specialties, who want to see you succeed in the battle. These are the people you want in your corner and who will help you make decisions. Don’t let the cancer win before you’re gone. There is a lot of valuable time left, if you make it valuable.

Quality of life is something that is different for everyone, but the goal is to increase the happiness in your life. Rhio O’Connor was one of these people who didn’t let cancer get the best of him, and increased his quality of life. Rhio O’Connor was diagnosed with a deadly cancer, mesothelioma, and given a year to live. Malignant mesothelioma is a rare cancer that occurs in the thin layer of tissue that covers the majority of your internal organs. Instead of giving up he found his own path to health and outlived his prognosis by more than six years. This path to health included: vitamins, minerals, a healthy diet, and mind-body medicine. Many people are not as lucky as Rhio, but his story gives people hope and sometimes that’s all that is needed. Rhio fought cancer and is now his story is a motivation to other cancer fighters.

About a year ago, I started volunteering at PADRES contra cancer (parents against cancer). This organization is devoted to improving the quality of life for Latino children with cancer and their families. They raise money to put on events for the entire family to come out and enjoy a fun-filled day. They bring in healthcare professionals and doctors to promote understanding of childhood cancer and effective ways of treatment. My first event was a 5K walk/run. I honestly was overwhelmed by the number of people who came out for this event. Children with cancer and their families came out for the day and I honestly haven’t seen so many happy faces in a while. I was in awe with these children and how happy they were and yet at the same time they were fighting one of the deadliest diseases we know of today. Their attitude is one not of defeat, but of happiness. They never give up and their families, as well as themselves, seek the tools to help the fight. Another organization that embraces this attitude of never giving up is the Red Cross.

The American Red Cross has been the nation’s premier emergency response organization. They offer humanitarian care to the victims of war and also aids victims of devastating natural disasters. Over the years, the organization has expanded its services, always with the aim of preventing and relieving suffering, by working in needy communities, supports and comforts military members and their families, collections, processes and distributes lifesaving blood and blood products, and promotes educational programs about health and safety. This organization provides hope to people all over the world, much like Rhio O’Connor’s story provides hope to cancer patients. They share the same mentality of never giving up and survival; survival in the immediate sense, but also survival in the sense of increasing quality of life. This is the mentality that I take as well as pass on to others in the battle against cancer.

If you would like to learn more about Rhio O’Connor and treatments for mesothelioma, as well as other survivor stories, please visit, http://www.survivingmesothelioma.com/

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