Polo, Bernardine – Surviving Mesothelioma

Polo, Bernardine

Being given the prognosis of mesothelioma, for most people this would have been a death sentence, but for Rhio O’Connor, however, this was not the case. This diagnosis was for him the beginning of an incredible journey to reclaim his health. Mesothelioma is defined as a rare form of cancer that developes in the protective linings of the body, most commonly in the outer linings of the lungs. Rhio O’Conner had been exposed to asbestos when he was younger, and at the age of 61 he received the “mesothelioma” diagnosis. He was told that he had less than a year to live, but as the title of his book so aptly reads “They said months, I chose years”, he outlived this prediction by seven and a half more years. His unwavering determination took him on an incredible journey to find natural therapies, spiritual practices and a network of alternative licensed clinicians that would each play a part in his battle against mesothelioma.

His story is so inspiring to me in many ways. I think of the initial hurdle he had to overcome, his response to his diagnosis, and that he was able to receive this fatal diagnosis and not succumb to it, but to make a decision to fight back with everything he had. Also, the “out of the box” approach he took by not following blindly the advice of one medical practitioner, but instead took hold of his own destiny. Many might find it not that difficult to do when life is looking up, but when given a dire prognosis, this attitude would be so much harder to achieve. Rhio O’Connor embraced this challenge.

Just as the Western Father of medicine, Hippocrates, has been quoted many times as saying “let your food be your medicine, and your medicine your food”, diet is one of the first issues addressed in Rhio O’Connor’s book, followed by two subsequent chapters on nutrition. Even though I haven’t faced a terminal illness as Rhio O’Connor has, my journey to health has been along the same vein. I started experiencing panic attacks at the age of 19 years. After making a decision to turn to natural and alternative therapies for healing, one of the first areas in my life I addressed was diet.

While one is researching therapies, gaining knowledge on ones particular diagnosis, “interviewing” prospective health care practitioners, a change in what I eat is one aspect of healing that I can implement immediately. Eating nutrient dense food, along with drinking high-quality water would be my first weapon of defense. Secondly, I would research supplements that have been effective in fighting the type of cancer I was diagnosed with. These supplements would include herbs, vitamins, and minerals. To establish my team of clinicians, I would research, network, and “interview” practitioners in various different fields of expertise. Some alternative practitioners I have used in the past have been naturopaths, iridologists, homoeopaths, and herbalists. Also, a nutritionist would be an integral part of the team. I would also educate myself on what is actually happening physiologically in my body. The alternative route would always be my first choice of treatment. In most cases, minimal harm is done by implementing natural therapies. The biggest risk factor would be that I would be losing time by trying a therapy that wasn’t effective in fighting the cancer.

I would also look to the elements of nature for healing. I would move to an area where there is minimal exposure to pollutants and environmental toxins, so as to put the least strain on my body as it is healing. I would try and live as naturally as possible, getting adequate amounts of sunlight, swimming in the ocean and talking long walks in the countryside. Rhio O’Connor also realized the importance of the mind-body connection. One’s thoughts and emotions, like positive thinking, forgiveness, gratitude and laughter, all play an integral part in ones healing. I would examine myself to see if there are any issues in my life where emotional healing needs to take place, for example if there are hurts to resolve, or needing to extend forgiveness.

Finally, I would strive to get my spiritual life in order. Am I ready to face life after death? I would search out the truth in the spiritual realms. Faced with a terminal illness, alerts us to the brevity of life. The last words of the statesman, Cesare Borgia, before his death, “I have taken care of everything in the course of my life, only not for death, and now I have to die completely unprepared”, are quite haunting. I would go into “spiritual training”, as the bible says, “physical training is of some value, but training in godliness has value for both this life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-9). I know I would need to draw close to God, in prayer, bible study and obedience to His word, so that I would be able to stand firm on my journey to health.

Rhio O’Connor’s story is an amazing story of hope and inspiration. His story gives us hope that the convential cures for cancer are not the only answer, if they are answers at all, but that there are alternative natural treatments that can bring about healing without having to go through aggressive and invasive surgeries. His story gives us hope that we can make informed decisions on the course of treatments to implement to reclaim our health, and his story gives us hope that, if given the diagnosis of having a terminal illness, we too can say “They said months, I chose years”.

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