It Is Possible To Do The Impossible

Meet James “Rhio” O’Connor. Rhio is a living memory of a person, a person that beat all odds and lived past his expected time. Years ago, Rhio was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly and “rare type of cancer that occurs in the thin layer of cells lining the body’s internal organs.” Despite the single year predicted for him to live by a doctor, he educated himself about all possible treatments, discovered his own regimen, and survived an impressive six long years. Rhio’s story had inspired me, made me think about how I would face the same challenges he was faced with and what steps I would take to face such challenges.

The inspiration I have gained from Rhio pertains to everyday life. If I was faced with the same challenge as Rhio and was given a dire cancer prognosis I would get more than one opinion, educate myself, and find support within my family and friends.

Doctors spend many years in school studying the human anatomy, but tests are not always done right, and results are not always interpreted the same. It is important to remember doctors are humans and humans are more than able to make mistakes. Getting more than one opinion not only insures the illness is indeed present, but gives the opportunity to possibly hear more than one treatment. Regardless of the severity of the prognosis, it is important to remember to be optimistic. Being upset clouds judgment so being optimistic would keep my mind clear and allow me to make good decisions.

With the diagnoses I will be able to research the subject, just as Rhio did, by taking advantage of the library and getting as much information on mesothelioma and treatments as possible. Books, journals, and websites will be scrutinized, but I will also ask doctors, professors who specialize in health and medicine, and other mesothelioma patients to see what my best available options are as a beginning point. Patients will be able to give me a first hand account of what treatments they have used, insight of how their bodies have reacted to said treatments, and a sense of hope that I can live life with mesothelioma. Doctors and professors will also put me on the right path by providing names of treatments and possible plans as well. With this gathered information, I will be able to go through websites, books, and medical journals to find the best options for me. As many say, knowledge is power, and with the right information I believe I will be able to follow Rhio’s path and make a regimen that is right for me.

In order to find the correct regimen for myself, I would have to research all available treatments and weigh the pros and cons of each. There are three categories of treatments for patients with mesothelioma and they are ordinary treatments, alternative treatments, and experimental treatments. Ordinary treatments are those that include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Alternative treatments include those such as acupuncture, herbal and nutritional supplements, and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) therapy. TENS therapy sends electric currents through the nerves to relieve pain.2 There are also experimental treatments to look into. These experimental treatments include gene therapy, drug therapy, and multimodality therapy that combine two or more treatments.3

After researching treatment options, the next step would be to weigh the pros and cons of each treatment. Some medications can have bad reactions and could possibly end up hurting other precious organs throughout the body. Because it is of importance to become healthy again, it would be a bad idea to use a medication that could cause more damage than is already be afflicted. It is important to find a regimen of treatments that would be beneficial to my condition if I were to be diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Despite the need to be sure about the prognosis, and the need to be educated of all possible treatments, it is important to have a support group of family and friends at my side. Their optimism and hope will help me be optimistic and thrive despite my condition. Going through life as an individual is hard enough, but going through life as an individual with cancer is even more difficult and any support will help. Like many have been known to say, a smile is contagious and a smile would be all I would need to survive.

Last but not least, I would find the need to make sure that others are educated about mesothelioma. By introducing people to websites such as, hope, optimism, inspirational stories, facts, and treatments can be found for a rare cancer such as mesothelioma. Educating the mass will help to potentially find a cure, it will help contractors and other professionals that work with asbestos learn how dangerous it is and how important it is to protect one’s self from it.

James “Rhio” O’Connor went against all odds and survived six years past what was predicted for a person of his condition. His story inspires me even though I do not share his same condition. He has shown me that it is possible to do the impossible. I am a Mexican female, so I am faced with many obstacles to overcome. For example, when I first arrived at college I thought it was going to be impossible to be accepted by my peers. This was because I chose to go to a predominately Caucasian school. Because I kept a good attitude and allowed people to see me for whom I was, I was accepted and now have amazing friends. Also, at this university I am currently in a class that is centered around debate. I am scared that my fellow classmates were not going to take me seriously because I am a Mexican female, but after reading Rhio’s story, I realize that there is hope for me if I do enough research to be educated on the topic.

Rhio’s unwillingness to give up has inspired me not only as a college student, but also as an individual who believes it is important to get the world educated about mesothelioma by researching websites such as Because I have not personally been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is impossible to know exactly what Rhio went through, but I realize that it is important to get educated incase I, or someone I know, is faced with this challenge.

By: Harrmann, Jamie

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