Egan, Jessica – Surviving Mesothelioma

Egan, Jessica

In one way or another, cancer has a way of affecting everyone in this generation. James “Rhio” O’Connor suffered from mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that affects the mesothelium, which is the membrane surrounding most internal organs. The cells of the mesothelium divide abnormally and quickly, like most types of cancer, which can cause the membrane to thicken and the formation of tumors. Once a patient is diagnosed, the life expectancy is normally less than a year depending on how far along the cancer is. A major cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, which was the case with Rhio O’Connor. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation were not options for him because of how severe the cancer was. Instead of giving up and getting everything arranged before he passed away, Rhio O’Connor was determined to find another way to live with his cancer. After working with several doctors he came up with his own treatment, which included changing his diet, practicing mind-body medicine, his own discipline, and taking over 100 supplements a day. Due to his hard work and determination, he ended up living for seven and a half more years.

Rhio O’Connor’s story is such an inspiration to me. He proved that there are other ways to survive cancer than the normal treatments. He proved that doctors do not always have the answers to everything. I have a lot of faith in doctors, but they tend to stick with what has been known to work. No one has ever done what O’Connor did, so doctors will not recommend something like that without many instances of success. Rhio O’Connor also proved that your own determination can get you through anything, even a deadly disease. The supplements were not the only thing helping him survive. His own will power and discipline was an enormous factor. I aspire to have the strength that he had if I was placed in a similar situation. For some people it is easier to accept that there is nothing they can do than try treatment after treatment, which can be extremely stressful and painful. It takes a lot of strength to go through many serious treatments. When doctors give us a prognosis or diagnoses, most people listen because they assume the doctor knows best. For O’Connor to not listen to the doctor and find his own solution took a lot of courage. He defied the odds and lived over seven years longer than expected. If I were in his shoes, I would hope I could be as strong as him. I know it can be extremely hard to keep your hope and it is easy to give up, but I believe that I would try to find another way to live. After reading about O’Connor, I definitely know I would talk to multiple doctors and come up with my own plan because he proved that it is impossible to predict the path of a disease and that there is always another way.

If I were given an ominous prognosis, I would find the strength within me to find the best treatment for me. If chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery were plausible options for me, I would do research and pick the best one. I would research other patients who have been in similar positions as me before, having the same type of cancer at the same stage, and see if it would work for me. I would choose something that has been proven many times before, so the chances of success are greater. Before committing to a treatment though I would definitely go see a multitude of doctors. I would want as many opinions as I could get to see if they all said the same thing.

If chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery had little to offer me I would opt out of those treatments. I have seen the horrible effects of these on people before and if the chances of it helping were slim I would not want to waste the little time I have left in agony. Before hearing Rhio O’Connor’s story I do not think I would have tried to find an alternative treatment. This is not because I do not have the courage and strength, but because I did not know something like this was possible. I have only heard of the basic treatments. Because of him, if I am ever given a dire prognosis for anything I will do all the research necessary to find alternative treatments. Hearing that you only have a certain amount of time to live can be devastating, but if there were any way to prolong my life, without much pain and suffering, I would do it. Just like with the common treatments, I would talk with as many doctors as possible just in case I found that one doctor who had a different, more suitable treatment. After talking to many doctors, I would take ideas from all of them and try to come up with some sort of treatment plan specialized for me. As long as the side effects do not outweigh the chances of success I will be willing to try any thing. Coming up with your own treatment, like Rhio O’Connor did, is extremely time consuming, but in the end, if it works, your life could be much better and longer because of it.

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