Few people decide to be more of a contributor to the world than a consumer in the world. Yet it is those people who are the ones who stand when their world falls against them because they know what it is to fight when things do not look good for them and how to press on because they have it in them to look at something past themselves and the inconvenience they are suffering for a greater good. Great men such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. Cesar Chavez, and Paul Rusesabagina, are fine examples of people who persevered through the obstacles of their time for a greater good. Yet another example that we are not so familiar with today is Mr. James “Rhio” O’Connor, a man diagnosed with the incurable cancer known is mesathelioma and given only one year to live. This man looked past his situation and pressed on with what time he still had to live in order to search for a cure for his cancer. He used what resources he had and looked at every means and way to find a cure. As a result he was able to push past his expected time to live and lived for six more years.
The cancer known as mesathelioma is a terrible form of cancer that attacks the skin that covers the vital organs such as the heart and the lungs. This skin is formally known as the mesothelium and produces fluid to smoothen the movement of the vital organs that move, such as the heart and the lungs. The cancer mesatelioma radically accelerates this production of fluid in the mesothelium and overflows the chest cavity, and the other affected regions of the body with this fluid. Because of this pressure built in the chest cavity general symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, weight loss, pain in the abdominal region (if affected in the abdominal region), and others. Mr. O’Connor’s ability to look past these obstacles and have an optimistic spirit is amazing and something to be admired.
In such a situation my initial response would be to have a heavy heart and to be downcast because of the situation. Yet I have been trained to go through my problems and issues and obstacles with strength and to persevere no matter the problem. I have had role models in history and within my family and I am confident in my ability to be a person who will look for a solution and make the best of the life I still have. I would ask all my resources and doctors available to me about the cancer and what could be done. If they did not provide me with the information I desired I would take my research to the libraries of UCLA, USC and other universities where I know the medical research is strong so that I can learn about the cancer myself and be as well informed as I possibly can. This will help me be more secure in my decisions of where to go for treatment and what could be done in regards to treatment that I had not tried before. Based on my research and new understanding of the cancer I would see what the characteristics of the cancer are so that I could get more in depth information that doctors do not tell those who are not educated in the matter. This way I could find methods of treatment that are different to those that doctors may not usually recommend. If I knew enough I am certain I could find other methods of treatment that were not attempted by now.
Not only would I look into what I could do to help myself but I would utilize my resources to see who could help me. From doctor friends of the family to faculty and staff at the California Institute of Technology, I would ask all who I can to get an idea of what can be done to help me. I would especially exercise this effort if it was given that chemo, radiation and surgery would do little to cure the cancer. There is also a treatment I would be willing to attempt that I heard of during my summer research at Caltech. My previous co-mentor told me that a method of treating skin cancer is by using lasers and laser dye on top of the cancerous cells to separate and destroy them. We used similar instruments and laser dye material for my summer research so I would be especially willing to try that procedure. Since mesathelioma is a cancer that acts on the skin of the major organ, it can be thought of as a form of skin cancer, but on the vital organs. Since this approach that my co-mentor told me about applied to skin cancer, especially a superficial skin cancer, and given that the pleura is not a very thick skin over the organs, this approach may be worth attempting. It would require surgery in order to apply the laser treatment to the organs directly, but our current technology will allow us to do this if we only try.
All this that Mr. O’Connor has done has shown me how to value life a lot more. This man went through great lengths to stay alive as long as he could and kept his optimistic spirits up through his circumstances. Seeing as to how precious life is and how one life could be so significant to the world, I would also take on this approach to push and go through every length and extent I could in order to overcome a disease that tries to shorten my life.
By: Cervantes, Cesar