Rhio O’Connor is an inspiration to all diagnosed with cancer. The first three letters of the taboo word are “can” and Mr. O’Connor embraced that challenge and encouragement. When mesothelioma threatened to define him, he sought remedies over reasons and bandages over bondage. Mesothelioma is rare cancer that effects the thin layer covering the majority of internal organs, most often the lungs, abdomen, and heart. It is an aggressive disease that is usually controlled rather than cured. Mr. O’Connor was given a year to live, but outwitted his killer. Through his own extensive research and informed decisions his journey took him beyond his prognosis and extended him an additional five years. If faced with the same opposition as Mr. O’Connor, I would approach my cancer in a similar “uninvited” manner.

All cancer cells replicate uncontrollably and possess the ability to metastasize or spread. There are factors that can either inhibit or promote these processes. My first step towards well being would be to take an inventory of these contributors, categorizing them as internal or external factors. External factors would include, but not be limited to workplace and home environments, air and water pollutants, and exposure to chemicals. Immediate responses would entail eliminating all external factors that lead to an excess of free radicals. A free radical is an atom or group of atoms that contain at least one unpaired electron. Urgent decreases in exposure to radiation (sun or x-ray), pollutants such as asbestos, tobacco smoke, automobile fumes, etc., and chemicals as major as alcohol and as minor as household cleaners would be necessary. A reliable resource for many household alternatives is “Clean Naturally: Recipes for Body, Home, and Spirit” by Sandy Maine. Internal factors would be lifestyle changes in diet, exercise, and stress management. It is theorized that a weakened immune system impairs the body’s ability to fight cancer cells. Therefore nutrition is essential to beating cancer odds for numerous reasons. First the diet can contribute to the formation of damaging free radicals. The body obtains nutrients from the foods we eat. Energy is created by combining oxygen and these nutrients. During this oxidation process oxygen molecules containing unpaired electrons are released. These free radicals when produced in large quantities can cause cell damage. It is known that this oxidation activity occurs more often in fat molecules than in protein or carbohydrate molecules. A drastic decrease in dietary fat, especially fried foods would be essential to decreasing free radicals. Also substances known as antioxidants help to destroy free radicals this detoxifies and protects the body. An increase in vitamin and mineral supplements containing vitamin A, C, E, beta-carotene, selenium, and zinc would be recommended to start. Secondly herbal therapy can strengthen the body’s natural ability to destroy cancer cells. Many spices such as cayenne pepper, ginger, rosemary, sage, turmeric, etc. contain anti-cancer properties, while others such as Cat’s claw enhances immune function and is believed to contain anti-tumor properties. An informative resource to supplemental and herbal therapies is “Prescription for Nutritional Healing” by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC and James F. Balch, MD. Thirdly, it is known that cancer cells grow better in an acidic internal environment. Foods effect the body’s general pH. Therefore a diet rich in alkaline choices would aid in creating a basic pH, that is believed to inhibit the cancer process. Food charts outlining acid and alkaline choices can be obtained from numerous online health sites. An alkaline rich diet would consist of mainly fresh fruits and vegetables, with little to no meat and dairy. I would attempt buying organic varieties as much as possible to decrease the risk of exposure to pesticides and other unneeded chemicals. Coffee and sugars would also need to be eliminated as they feed an acidic cancer thriving environment. Exercise, such as holistic yoga would also be encouraged if applicable and stress management urged.

Surgery, Chemotherapy, and Radiation would be options discussed and discerned after the above lifestyle changes were made. I would actively pursue testimonies from cancer survivors as to their particular methods and treatments. Information would be an asset to remission, from internet resources, local public libraries, to health food venues. Multiple opinions would be sought and considered.

Above all else an optimistic spirit is essential to cancer freedom. Surrounding oneself with family, friends, and faith has proven to change the course of an illness. Rhio O’Connor knew his quest for physical well being could not thrive without spiritual well being. The passion of his story reflects just that, no pain is in vain. Whether it is cancer awareness, prevention, or elimination his story bestows hope, something we all CAN do.

By: Bokisa, Cheryl Ann

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