I Had The Footsteps Of James O’Connor

I leave the doctor’s with my parents, both of them talking quietly behind me. The age old question “So what’s wrong with me?” has finally been answered, but not in a way that anyone would like to hear “Cancer” That was all I heard from his lips before my world started to shut down, That and Mesothelioma, a word I remember from my AP Biology class. It was a cancer that happened in the lining that held my organs, mine was Pleural Mesothelioma, starting in the pleural that surrounds my lungs. My world is crumbling beneath me and the ride home is silent. I want to cry and curse the world. Of all things it had to be cancer. I rush to my room and lock myself inside. I know my parents will want to talk but I can’t bear to start that discussion. I would call my friends but I don’t want to listen to their shocked and pity filled voices. I turn on my laptop and do what I do best. Study. I google Mesothelioma and click on every link. Then I read a story about a man, James “Rhio” O’Connor and how he was given one year and through his research and regiment of treatments lived for more than 7 years. Hope fills me and I am determined to not only outlive my cancer but to beat it, to use what Rhio did and expand, taking me to the next step of life; the real battle.

I continue my google search and then jump onto bing, seeing if they have other sites. I look for alternative treatments, since my doctor already mentioned chemotherapy. I also looked up nutrition and figured being healthier all around might give me the strength I needed to beat back this oppressive cancer. I waited until my mother in law was home from work and talked to her about the cancer and different options available, since she worked for a company trying to find cures for cancer. I sat with my parents and step parents as we figured out what we were going to do, but I already formed a plan and a goal. I told them about my research and what my searches turned up. I told them about James O’Connor and how he lived far beyond his expectancy. Then I went back to work, now moving my research to the library.

I looked over books and books on Pleural mesothelioma and learned as much as I could about the disease. Then I used the library databases to go to cancer sites to gather patient stories and information on doctors that practiced close by, which meant a trip to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston Massachusetts, only an hour from my house. I also got in touch with alternative medicine experts and finally told the rest of my friends and family. I knew I would need them for support through the battles and trials I faced. I went to my old high school AP Biology teacher and talked to her about what she had heard about breakthrough treatments, if anything, and other experimental testing.

I had decided the second I learned about James O’Connor that I would not let cancer take over my life. I wanted to travel and see the world before I left this world, and even though I kept telling myself I would survive, that I would live through this I wanted to see parts of the world just in case. I applied for my passport and told my parents my plan to travel overseas to Europe. They thought I wanted to do it because I doubted I would live, I wanted to do it because I knew I would live, and that I knew I would be able to visit these places again. It took some time but I traveled through a lot of Europe, finding my descendants in Ireland and England, tracing my heritage and learning about my culture. I stopped in Egypt before I headed back and started to wage my war on the cancer wrecking my body. Though, I had something that made me strong, real hope. It was so real I could almost reach out and touch it. I had the footsteps of James O’Connor, I had guidance and a plan. I would enjoy my life and beat my mesothelioma in the process, and I would be able to provide the guiding light to others as James “Rhio” O’Connor lent to me.

By: Barnard, Rebecca

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