One Of These Survivors Is Rhio O’Connor

To even imagine being diagnosed with cancer is frightening, let alone being told there are only months left to live and enjoy life. Yet, Rhio O’ Connor experienced these emotions of terror at age 61 in October of 2001 when he was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. According to Mosby’s Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Health Professions, mesothelioma is “a rare malignant tumor of the mesothelium of the pleura or peritoneum, associated with exposure to asbestos… The prognosis is poor.” Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer, but Rhio O’Connor didn’t lose hope. After conducting extensive research, Rhio O’ Connor developed his own individual health plan.

I like to think if I were diagnosed with cancer that I would have even half of the will power Rhio O’ Connor possessed. Because, I bet, beyond all else, Rhio O’Connor had to have a strong desire to live as well as the courage to fight his cancer. Without his courage and desire for life, he would not have survived an extra seven years. Because of his courage, Rhio was able to hunt down a cure for his “incurable” cancer.

If I were diagnosed with cancer, I would try to be courageous like Rhio. Because of this, I would seek treatment at a cancer treatment center specific to my cancer if such a one existed. Most cancer treatment centers have high rates of success. Although I would trust the medical professionals at the cancer center to help improve my quality of life, I would likely do research on the side. I would try to determine if their methods were really the best ones out there. I would also want to make sure the center’s methods led to success of defeating the cancer. Research would be necessary to assure me that I was following the treatment plan best able to help me defeat my cancer.

If no cancer treatment center for my specific cancer existed, I would dive into research. I am currently a college student who is a biology major, so I am a bit familiar with scientific terms. This would help me get a better understanding of the kind of cancer I would be facing since I would know a bit of the background of the cancer (what may have caused it, etc).

I would seek the advice of professionals researching my type of cancer after conducting my own research. I would try to discover what the best methods of treatment are and their success rates from these professionals. By having done my research, I would be able to get “real” answers from the doctors. I wouldn’t seem like a “victim,” but as someone who is trying to win a battle, a warrior fighting to survive.

While professionals would likely be a great source of information, I imagine survivors of my type of cancer, should they exist, would be invaluable resources. They would know exactly what I was going through, and they would help guide me through the process. Cancer survivors would be able to tell me which doctors helped them as well as the treatment which was most effective for them. Unfortunately, while the disease might be the same, the cancer, like any disease, affects each person differently. So, I may have to slightly modify my treatment from the survivor’s.

After compiling my research, both through speaking to professionals and cancer survivors as well as reading science journal articles, I would choose a method of treatment. I would try to pick the most effective treatment, the one that would give me the best rate of survival. If no treatment promised a “cure,” then I would go with the treatment that allowed me to live for the longest amount of time. If I found the treatment I chose to not be as successful as I hoped, then I would change my plan of attack. I might go back to a professional to determine whether the original treatment just needed more time to take effect or if it just was not working. If the original treatment plan was not working, I would try to learn from the professionals why it wasn’t working. Not only would I consult with professionals, I would seek out more cancer survivors in hopes of gaining some new insight as to how best treat my cancer. With their help, along with my own additional research, I would discover the cure which would allow me to live.

Many people see cancer as a death sentence. Yet, that doesn’t have to be the case. Technology has greatly improved in the last several years, allowing many diagnosed with cancer to survive. One of these survivors is Rhio O’Connor. His is a story of inspiration; he was told he had less than a year left to live, yet he chose to fight. To learn more about Rhio O’ Connor and mesothelioma, visit

By: Coulter, Jessyka

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