Rhio O’Connor was a truly extraordinary man. He was diagnosed with a fatal case of mesothelioma cancer and was given only a year to live, but beat the odds and survived for six years more than what doctors expected. Mesothelioma cancer is a rare type of cancer associated with prolonged exposure to asbestos. Most people diagnosed with this form of cancer today were exposed to asbestos anywhere from 1940-1970. This exposure to asbestos can be from asbestos in a household or from construction work involving asbestos. In mesothelioma cancer, cancer cells are found in the pleura (the sac lining the chest), pericardium (lining around the heart), or the peritoneum (lining of the abdominal cavity). O’Connor was able to outlive his prognosis by researching mesothelioma cancer, treatment options, and by working with a team of handpicked health care workers to determine a plan of action that would help to extend his expected life expectancy beyond what doctors predicted.
After learning about Rhio O’Connor’s inspiring battle with mesothelioma cancer, I couldn’t help but wonder what I would do if I was put in the same situation as him. Knowing his story, I believe that I would be inspired to fight as hard as he did, exhausting every possible resource available to me. After first learning about my diagnosis from my doctor, I would go to several oncologists to confirm that I did indeed have cancer. During this time I would most likely lean heavily on my parents for support, since a cancer diagnosis can be emotionally taxing. I would also take this time to pray to God that everything would be all right, that I would survive this. After getting over the initial shock of being diagnosed with cancer, I would do research. The first step in my research would be to find the best oncologists, the ones with the most experience with my type if cancer and arrange to meet with them. The next step for me would be to find a message board or online community that focuses on the type of cancer I’ve been diagnosed with. I would use this community to gain knowledge about what others in my position have done, as well as use it as a springboard for the research I would do about the disease. On my own I would use Google.com and Bing.com, as well as my local and school libraries, to research all possible causes and symptoms of the cancer. I would research all of this information because it is my belief that in order to fight something as deadly as cancer, you need to know everything about it, and this includes the causes and symptoms. After learning about the causes and symptoms of the cancer I would research treatment options. While researching treatment options I would look at common treatment options, alternative treatment options, and clinical trials. After making a list of treatment options I would look at each one’s percentage of success, side effects, and quality of life I would have with each treatment option. I would then return to the online community again and ask survivors and patients of the cancer how they felt about each option, because books can only tell you so much about how a particular treatment will effect you and your family.
My biggest resource for fighting the cancer however, would be my doctors. When I say doctors I mean my primary care physician, who has known me for years and has my detailed medical history, my oncologist, who would be a specialist in the cancer, and last, but certainly not least, my parents, who although are psychiatrists would do everything that they possibly could in their power, use every contact that they had to ensure that I was receiving the most successful and advanced treatment options, and would consider my personal well being every step of the way, more than any other doctor could. I would also have to consider my health insurance in this process. Although I have wonderful coverage from the health insurances of both my parents, I would have to research the policy and make sure that whatever treatment I chose, it would at least be partially covered by my health insurance.
With all the research I would have personally done and all the minds that I had working to help heal me I would feel comfortable making a final decision about my treatment option. If chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation were expected to not give me the results that I expected, I would pray some more to God and consider alternative therapies as well that can include herbs, acupuncture, meditation, etc. I would not let this cancer kill me without throwing everything at it that I possible could, something I learned after reading the story of Rhio O’Connor, who refused to let his cancer beat him without a fight.