Barger, Reagan Nicole – Surviving Mesothelioma

Barger, Reagan Nicole

It is an honor to be given the opportunity to write about the courage of Rhio O’Connor. After researching his incredible fight and bravery, I wanted to let others know what an amazing person he was. To be given such little hope against Mesothelioma would push most people into darkness and despair. The prognosis for this disease leaves so little for people to hang on to but Rhio seemed to have a different makeup than most other people I know.

My hero in life has been my father. My parents have been married 22 years and have always given my brother and me a happy home life. In 2000, my father was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. As I read about Rhio, I felt a connection to him as it seems my dad and Rhio are cut from the same mold. Although the diagnosis was a shock, my father immediately told our family that we were going to fight his disease together and he was not going to let his disability change the goals he had for our family. He continued to work for 7 years but finally retired in 2007 from the progression of MS. Over the last 10 years, he has worked tirelessly searching for natural supplements and unconventional treatments to prolong his mobility and quality of life.

Before reading about Rhio, I had not known of another person that fought against the odds as hard as my father had. The fighting spirit and optimism Rhio exhibited is an inspiring story that everyone should know about. I shared Rhio’s story with my dad and it seemed to inspire him even more as well. We have had discussions with friends about the amazing steps Rhio took to give himself a longer life than most thought he would have. The influence of a single person can be so tremendous on the lives of thousands. I now know of another special individual that decided to take a different attitude into a battle against overwhelming odds. Rhio has made an impression on my life without ever meeting him. His legacy and spirit will go on through many others.

Because of our family’s battles, without the blessings of scholarships, my dream of a college education would not be possible. I am majoring in Broadcast Journalism because I want to use my influence some day to help others. By using the media as a tool, I believe I can get information about research and treatment for diseases like Cancer and MS to thousands of people. No one would utilize the gift of the scholarship Rhio has made possible better than I would. Thank you so much for your courage Rhio and for the opportunity to tell others what your courage means to me.

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