James Rhio O Connor’s story inspires me but it also frightens me. He suffered from mesothelioma. Like so many other diseases with no cure there is speculation as to what really causes it. Is it caused by exposure to asbestos? Research says that this exposure is generally the cause because most of the Mesothelioma patients have had some exposure to asbestos. I appreciate the research but in time when the cure is found to be some microbe or some enzyme gone defective then and only then will we know. His prognosis was dire. He chose not to go with the flow but to decide how he lived and how he died.
The question what would you do if…? Is so misleading. When we are not faced with the particular circumstance it is easy to pontificate about what we would do. For example I always said if someone tried to rob me I would fight them and would not allow it to happen. I was robbed at gun point and I didn’t fight .I did not resist. I just stood there and allowed it to happen. It was if it was happening in a dream. I don’t even know if I was frightened. I just knew I could not move or think. I could not move or think. After the robber left it took me a few minutes to recover enough to be frightened and I broke out in a cold sweat and wanted to cry. I called the police but I did not even remember what the robber looked like. This story happened a few years ago and to this day when I think about it my skin gets little bumps. So the “what “if game is academic until it become real.
I can only imagine how Mr. Rhio felt when he was told he had cancer (mesothelioma). Although this is not a robbery story with a no gun I am sure that like me he had to try to get a grip to identify what happened or what was happening to him. If I were given a dire cancer prognosis I would first probably cry and ask God, why? As I thought about all the bad things I hear and read about cancer; the chemo that makes you sick and kills your immune system. the bald head, the weight loss. the pain and suffering, the biopsies and surgeries, the family trying to be brave in front of you, the Doctors trying to be optimistic. Then I hope I would be able to make the decision to fight for my life or alternatively to live it fully to the end. I would want to know about my cancer so that I would be prepared for whatever would come. I have the kind of family that thinks outside the box so I would not have to ask but would have so much information. Google would be on full blast as my family searched to find, if not a cure options for me. No book on cancer would be safe from purchase. Wikipedia would be shut down due to the number of hits. My family would make me think about the pros and the cons particularly if the surgery had little to offer in extending my life. My family would encourage me to try macrobiotic diets, vitamins, herbs, mushrooms, bio feedback and meditation. Once I knew I would spend hours in meditation telling my body to do just the opposite of what the cancer does. This really isn’t anything new. It’s just that people do what they want to do until they are faced with a problem so overwhelming that they are forced to choose health instead of death. My family would insist that I know medically what my exact cancer was and how it affects my body. My family’s philosophy is the more you know the more you can program your body to undo what has happened. My grandmother who was a registered nurse used to say. “The human body can kill itself or heal itself. You just have to know how to tell it what to do.”
In the end the Doctors are just practicing. They don’t know everything. “Man proposes God disposes.” How many times have we heard about a person being diagnosed with cancer and outlives the doctor that diagnosed him. James Rhio OConnor had the fight and a will to live. He became the master of his fate. He did all the things my family would do with and for me. He became the chooser. In the end this was the best thing for him to do. And so like James Rhio O Connor and the many others who have defeated cancer I would also do it my way.