Felton, Kaneesa Shawn – Surviving Mesothelioma

Felton, Kaneesa Shawn

When Faced With a Challenge

James “Rhio” O’Connor was diagnosed at age sixty-one with pleural mesothelioma, a type of cancer that develops from the lining of many of our body’s organs, or in the case of Rhio, the lungs. Now, at age sixty-one, many people would just give up. One’s life is nearly over and why would one want to life the rest of his/her life fighting and suffering to stay alive? When Rhio was diagnosed, the doctors gave him less than a year to live, with no way of removing the tumor by surgery or improving the position with chemotherapy, he did not give up on his life. While working closely with specialized clinicians, Rhio was able to develop a regimen of 100 supplements a day, change his diet and eating habits, and practice mind-body medicine. Rhio greatly encouraged his own self-discipline to help him through this tough time. When all was said and done, Rhio surpassed the doctors’ predicted time of death and lived for almost seven and half years afterwards. It was because of his hard work and perseverance that he made a better, longer life for himself and lived with a so-called “incurable” disease.

Challenges will always be present in our lives; they help us to adapt and adjust to ever-changing environments and solve problems. When we overcome a challenge, whether it is something as simple as getting an “A” on a test or as difficult as overcoming cancer, we tend to feel better about ourselves and feel accomplished, as if we are able to do something right. Overcoming this challenge, though, can be extremely difficult in the first place. However, with the help of others and through hard work and determination, challenges can be faced with a confident attitude and the assurance that you will make it out ok.

I have had a great grandfather and a great aunt die from cancer. My grandfather only lived with it for about a year; my aunt fought for many. My grandfather was a tough man; nothing could bring him down. However, seeing him lying in a bed while life was being taken from him was probably the hardest thing to see. He looked so helpless, and I knew at that moment that there had to be something that would help him survive this, that there had to be something else besides the chemo radiation that could fight this off. It was the same way with my aunt. She fought so hard for so many years while the cancer spread throughout her whole body, “eating” her from the inside out. She went through the chemotherapy, just as my grandfather did, and it helped, but maybe only for a few months. I knew that there had to be something that could save their lives.

If I was in the same position as Rhio was, I am not sure if I could have gone to the lengths he did just to save my life. I know that it must have been tough for him knowing that he was going against the odds, fighting against the “traditional” medicine of cancer such as chemotherapy and radiation. I am not quite sure that I would have the strength to overcome my fears of death itself to fight to save my life. I am not sure I could do it for myself, but I would want it done for others. I would want to fight to help save others; I would save myself just to be able to save them. I would use every resource I could get my hands on and fight for them, for my aunt and grandfather.

James “Rhio” O’Connor is an inspiration for all. His story tells us that we can fight through any problem we come across and make it out alive and well. Because of his story, I know I can graduate college and make a living for myself, with the belief that any problem I face can be resolved. Life is full of challenges, some simple and others more difficult, but, through perseverance and help of others, we can make it through and excel in life, with the knowledge that if we can accomplish this, we can accomplish anything.

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