“Life has meaning only in the struggle, triumph or defeat is in the hands of God… so let us celebrate the struggle!” This is a famous quote of the Swahili warrior song and if you ask me, James “Rhio” O’Conner is not only a warrior, he is a legend. His willingness to go against the odds of nature and outlive his prognosis given by the “gods” of medicine is an extraordinary event. If I were ever given a deadly prognosis of any kind, I would take heart in the struggle and fight till the end as did Rhio. For anyone that has had a family member with cancer, ever fought a sickness of any kind, or been in that life-changing hospital room would know that doctors are not gods. Some doctors act so certain about the diagnosis and how long you have to live pushing death will come soon, but in truth that part of life is not in their hands. It is in the hands of someone much greater, God.
We don’t always realize the effect of our thoughts as a result of a doctor’s mere opinion, the psychosomatic effects. If we believe death is at our door knocking, it will let itself right in. Rhio took the doctors’ prognosis, went down the road less taken by researching something that seems unattainable to understand, and made a remarkable extended 6 years of his life. Many of us have heard the story of beloved Farrah Fawcett, the girl next door American actress that was diagnosed with cancer and lost the battle. Farrah decided to go with chemotherapy and various surgeries to hopefully cure the cancer, which she eventually “did” only for it to reappear. In her documentary as she recalled on the journey through it all, she regretted doing all the chemo and losing time she could have spent with her family. If I were ever diagnosed with a fatal cancer, I would do exactly as Rhio had done, researched all the possibilities and then come to a conclusion. A lot of valuable information can be found on the website https://survivingmesothelioma.com/. If chemotherapy was the only solution, I most likely would not take it. Chemotherapy has side effects I would never willingly put myself through; the biggest one would be the loss of time with my family and friends. The effects of chemo are harsh and cruel; prolonged periods of time away from your family, losing your hair, and long term complications. There are various cases where it does work magic and everything turns out fine, but that is a rare case. In my opinion, I would much rather spend time enjoying the rest of life’s precious moments with friends and family in a happy, enjoyable place. I say this not so much because I am naïve, but because I have witnessed both sides of the story. I would talk to endless amounts of patients who are going through the struggle of cancer, and those that have survived it, all of them being warriors. I would do research on chemo, but in my opinion in has so very little to offer. Chemotherapy works by killing off cancer cells, but unfortunately it cannot always tell the difference between cancer cells and healthy cells. Being sick from the drugs for the remainder of my time does not seem the logical choice. I have always been a fan of quality over quantity and in the case of cancer I choose a good quality life than being stuck away in a hospital to only maybe be cured or maybe live a few plus years. My Uncle Terry was a remarkable man, but with great sadness he was diagnosed with a brain tumor several years back and he lost the battle. Instead of reading the doctors’ recommendations like it was the bible, as cliché as it sounds he lived life to the fullest and spent his last years on earth surrounded by happiness and love, and to be honest I have never seen someone that knows death is coming look so content with their life. On the opposite end of the spectrum I have also known several people in my life that decided to go with chemotherapy. Just as the sun always rises, the end result was always the same. Every person that I have ever known to have cancer and do chemotherapy has said in the end, “It’s not worth it.” Everyone’s fate is in the hands of God, our days were numbered before we were even born. If it is our time, it is simply our time.
Both Rhio and my uncle have taught me something very important. You make your life what it is; no human being can determine it for you. Life is a struggle, and how we react is how we find meaning. Rhio inspired me that anything is possible and life’s hardest obstacles can be overcome.