In respect to the valiant and enduring spirit of Mr. James “Rhio” O’Connor; I must emphasize how immensely honoured I am to be able to correlate accounts of his life into this writing.
Mr. James “Rhio” O’Connor, at the age of 61, was diagnosed with a deadly cancer called “mesothelioma”. Mesothelioma as defined by the American Cancer Society, is cancer that starts in the cells that line certain parts of the body, especially the chest, belly (abdomen), and heart. The lining formed by these cells is called mesothelium. These cells protect organs by making a special fluid that allows the organs to move. For instance, this fluid makes it easier for the lungs to move during breathing.
Upon his diagnosis, Mr. O’Connor was only given a year to live. He decided to resist the idea of a shortened life and instead gave in to the self-realization that a healthier alternative was available and because of this he outlived his prognosis by more than six years.
Mr. O’Connor used the time given to him to study everything he could about his disease; he wanted to know everything there was about this growing existence that was inside him. Countless hours of his life were spent communicating with many Doctors, Researchers and Patients alike. He investigated various forms of therapy, their side effects on the human body and their theoretical and philosophical significance. Through his studies, he was able to create his own therapeutic protocol alongside the clinicians that he chose and every decision he made was truly fact based and informed. In simplicity, this was the life of an intellectual extraordinaire.
This story for me is as relative as it is important and gives me enduring hope in the midst of trial. I have met so many people in my short life who have been diagnosed with a rare or deadly cancer. Some have lived and were cured and others fought until they were weak and eventually they became angels. So many of their lives remind me of Mr. O’Connor’s life; a life that says, “Don’t give up!” Unlike Mr. O’Connor many of them were unable to afford proper treatment and research. Many could not migrate as they would have loved to but deep within each of them was a shared belief in something greater than themselves and that alone allowed them to survive.
It is only by imagination that I can try to understand what my life would be like if I were diagnosed with a deadly cancer as was Mr. O’Connor. If I did have a dire cancer I would try to be the exact man he was; one that persevered, one that believed in the power of an educated mind, one that spent time understanding his own body, one that asked the right questions and more importantly; one whose hope and faith was embedded in ‘something greater than himself”. I would be no less involved in the therapies and information of doctors and researchers. I would be no less optimistic in spirit and in truth. I would record my findings so that others may be able to share in it. I would make it accessible to anyone who would want to know about my cancer. I would also try to live promoting a more natural and holistic approach to cancer treatment. I would try to make it readily available to all cancer patients and host cancer lectures and talk with Governmental agencies about efficient cancer research funding. I would try to understand more of my spiritual self and use information by trusted doctors to aid me in promoting and creating sound proposals for more effective changes to the way terminal illnesses are handled. I would record my life in a journal and try to publish a book so that others could be inspired by my story. Lastly, I would involve my family and close friends into this part of my life and allow them to be my pillars of strength.
In a passionate attempt to not be a common statistic, James “Rhio” O’Connor lived a respectable, courageous life; he pushed his way through life despite his deadly diagnosis. He believed that he could still live and make his own decisions for as long as his mind would allow him to. He never gave up on himself and remained as informed as he possibly could about his treatment. He lived knowing that at any moment he could become an angel and in that hope of a termed life, he did all that was within his power to use his time effectively. James “Rhio” O’Connor is indeed a champion. I pray his legacy lives on forever.
In my own ardent language and emphatic gumption, I think of Mr. O’Connor’s story as one that inspires me to believe in faith and in the will and girth of the human condition which ultimately proves that survival to the end is possible.