Kandulna, Jason – Surviving Mesothelioma

Kandulna, Jason

Challenges are characteristics of life that people face daily. Whether they are easy or difficult, challenges are day to day experiences that human beings can almost never escape. Although challenges are very unwelcomed, it is through these obstacles that a person can grow intellectually, physically, socially and even spiritually. Challenges mean different things to different individuals; they can potentially better prepare a person for future barriers and can enhance morale or they can demean a person and diminish any esteem he/she may possess. Sometimes, people feel that they cannot overcome a certain obstacle because it is simply too hard. Therefore, as unfortunate as it is, more than they give up on the task itself, they give up on themselves. However, that was not the case for James Rhio O’Connor. Rhio was diagnosed with lung cancer, mesothelioma, and was given only a year to live. He could easily have accepted the prognosis and lived his life accordingly; however, he proved the prediction to be incorrect and, instead of one year, lived for seven and a half years. He researched his condition, assessed physicians and other patients, implemented his own interventions, and took care of himself very well.

Rhio’s story has been inspiring to me. It’s a story of hope, of strength, and of courage. It’s a story of one who went outside the box and went beyond what any doctor told him. For these reasons and more, I highly respect James Rhio O’Conner. Many others in his position have, and even at this moment, are giving up, are feeling hopeless, and are backing down from their fight to stay alive. It’s hard for me to say what I would have done if I was in his place: maybe I would cry endless tears; maybe I would muster up enough strength to fight back, or maybe, just maybe, I would give up. Despite what my reaction would be, one thing is for sure: I would be beyond angry with myself. I would reflect upon my entire life to see what I had done wrong, where I had sinned, for God to have punished me by placing upon my life such a great misery. Simultaneously, although I wouldn’t want to believe it at that time, I would know deep inside that everything happens for a reason.

I am a strong believer in God and I believe that God is the ultimate physician. I believe in prayerfully and faithfully asking God to heal and I know for certain that He hears. In the end, whatever the result may be, it would comfort me to know that it was in His plan, that His timing was best, and that everything happens in accordance to his will. If I was in Rhio’s place, my first instinct would be to fall to my knees and pray for God to help me stand up to this challenge. I would urgently request for my church, my friends, and my family to pray for me. Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t initially be as courageous as the past few sentences may have made me sound. Despite my strong beliefs, it would take me time to gather all the emotional and spiritual strength that I possibly could to fight this battle between life and death.

A problem of this caliber cannot be easily resolved. With any challenge, one needs to dig deep in order to fully understand the obstacle. Then only can the most efficient solution be devised. If I was put into Rhio’s shoes, I would research potential causes and remedies about mesothelioma and a few other types of cancer. I would conduct my research via books, specialists and the Internet. As for the specialists, I would first research and select the ones that had been rated “the best.” All this would be done in the greatest urgency. After much reading, speaking, and listening the time would come for me to draw theories and to act.

For cancer, chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are the most recommended sources of healing and are highly depended upon to save lives. However, I, personally, would not adhere to these methods because of my fear of their possible consequences. Many times as a child, I would fall ill, but l rarely ever relied on medication for healing. I relied on rest, a proper diet, exercise and hope. I am fully aware that to alleviate cancer, there is much more required. Still, I would attempt to find more natural or even other alternatives that do not come with consequences as opposed to going through chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. An example of an alternative treatment is within the field of nanotechnology. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is incorporating nanotechnology in devices that can be sent directly into the body and specifically target cancer cells as way of therapeutics. Making decisions is one of the most difficult aspects of life. There are several factors involved with making decisions, especially in a life and death situation as this one. As for me, there has and always will be one main advisor, one main source of hope and comfort: God. I speak from experience: He has guided me through the toughest times of my life and even though I do not know for a fact whether I would live if I was in Rhio’s situation, I know that if I did have cancer, He would hold my hand through each and every step of the way.

Challenges are complex and overwhelming. Cancer is one of the largest challenges of life anyone could ever face. However, much like other challenges, cancer is not always impossible to fight. James Rhio O’Connor did it. He proved that through adequate self-education and hard work, one can overcome even the toughest battles. He went against the status quo and lived seven and a half years more than he was told he would. From Rhio’s experience, I believe that if I were ever to be in his situation, I like him, could knock out the barriers, surpass the hurdles, and overcome the challenge. Although James Rhio O’Connor no longer lives with us today, the valuable lesson he amazingly taught will live on forever: that anything can be overcome, anything.

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