“We do not die because we have to die; we die because one day, and not so long ago, our consciousness was forced to deem it necessary”. Antonin Artaud
Benjamin Franklin once said, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes”. Franklin may have been right, however; most of us are spared the burden of knowing exactly when that final certainty will come. For those who have been diagnosed with a terminal disease like mesothelioma, the weight of knowing what precious little time is left can feel as heavy and as fatal as the executioner’s axe.
A rare few, James “Rhio” O’Connor for example, don’t allow their consciousness to believe that death is necessary. A rare few, concentrate all their efforts into seeking out the best methods for prolonging their lives. A rare few, refuse to except that life has to end because a man in a white coat said, “You’ve got eighteen months at best”. When these exceptional people take matters into their own hands, amazing things can happen.
When James “Rhio” O’Connor was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly disease caused by asbestos exposure; he was given only a year to live. Instead, Rhio focused all his efforts on researching the disease, possible treatments, and new advancements in the field. He worked with his doctors to find more modern cures and thus outlived his original prognosis by six years! Unfortunately, nothing Rhio did could have completely rid him of the horrible disease living inside him. Mesothelioma, while extremely rare, is also one of the most fatal diseases known to man. It is usually not diagnosed until thirty to forty years after initial exposure to asbestos. The disease attacks the membranes of the heart, lungs, stomach, and is extremely painful and aggressive. Those diagnosed with mesothelioma are not expected to live longer than a year after it has been discovered.
As a young woman who has been blessed with good health so far in my life, it is almost impossible for me to imagine going through what Rhio and thousands of other people have gone through. Although I have had two uncles taken by cancer, the thought of hearing such a fatal diagnosis being spoken to me is still something I cannot wrap my mind around. I have never heard of anything as extraordinary as Rhio’s battle with his fate. If I am ever in Rhio’s place, I hope that I will have the strength he did to keep fighting, to not dejectedly open the door when death came to call.
Stories of this nature are inspirational and Rhio’s situation in particular got me thinking, how would I act in such a dilemma? I believe that I would take after Rhio’s example. I would exhaust all possible resources and above all, not allow my consciousness to except that death is necessary. My mother instilled in me from a young age a desire to solve problems. Even in the face of a problem such as death, I know that I would focus my last remaining strength on finding a cure. First, I would begin researching possible treatments, even those that were still in the trial stages, by more than likely scouring the internet. I would try to gather as much information as I could about my prognosis and its affects and then take the information to my doctor so that we would be able to discuss the best possible treatments and I could make an informed decision. I would also consult other doctors to make sure that I was being giving the best information on healing my malady. I would make sure and be completely thorough in my research by talking to other people who have undergone the treatments like chemo, and find out from a primary source how effective they really are. Throughout this process I would also do my best to make other people aware of the disease, because across the board more funding for cancer and disease research is always needed.
After conducting my research and discussing courses of action with a number of physicians, then I would decide what treatment to begin. I know that throughout all this, my family would be at my side, helping me research and providing the support I know I would need in order to carry through in such a dire situation. My family is a very tight knit group and I have no doubt that they would be just as dedicated to finding the best solution as I would. I believe that having something to focus my mind on, like searching beyond all the normal options in order to find the one that really works, would give me the drive to prove the doctors wrong. Just like Rhio, hunting for a cure would give me the will to survive long past what was originally expected.
Throughout my life, I have never been willing to sit idly by and simply listen to what other people tell me. That is why I know if I was giving such an unfortunate diagnosis, I would do everything within my power and more to find away to live longer.
By: Harrison, Sophia