Rhio O’Connor’s story is an absolutely inspiring one. When he was diagnosed with mesothelioma (a form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure), he was given a year to live. But that didn’t make Rhio give up or lay back and wait to die. He fought, he learned and he lived. Because of his hard work and determination, he lived more than six years longer than he was originally told he would (visit www.survivingmesothelioma.com for more information about mesothelioma and Rhio’s wonderful story).
When you are told you have weeks or even months to live, it is easy to get depressed and give up. But by doing that, you are letting the disease win. Everyone’s life will come to an end; knowing roughly the time of your ending shouldn’t make you want to stop living. It should make you want to live an even fuller and more inspired life. If this means educating yourself so you have hope and knowledge about your disease and what you can do, then you should by all means pursue that knowledge.
When someone is given a piece of information, they sometimes take it as a fact, but often will do their own research to find the truth for themselves. So if I was given a dire diagnosis, I would definitely do my own research. I wouldn’t just let what one doctor told me be the final word on the matter. If a doctor tells me I am going to die, I am going to find out what I can do to prove him wrong.
This is the age of information, of technology. There are so many resources out there that are available to anyone. To start my quest for knowledge, I would use those resources. I would do research online, go to the library and read anything I could find that had to do with my disease and treatment of it. I would seek out the advice and wisdom of friends and family. I would get second opinions from other doctors. I would get third and fourth and tenth opinions. I would seek out people who are doing research on the disease I was facing and see what kind of things they are working on. I would talk with alternative health experts to find out different ways of managing the symptoms and dealing with treatment. I would talk to counselors and clergy. I would pray. I would talk to anyone I could who knew anything at all about my disease, including patients going through the same thing and family members of those patients.
Above all, I would never give up. That is why Rhio’s story is so inspiring and why he survived so much longer than the doctors said he should have. If you get an answer that you don’t like, you keep searching until you find a solution that you do like. I believe that this is what Rhio did. He worked with everyone he could until he found something that worked, something that made sense and that he agreed with. Most people would have just gone with the treatment the original doctor gave. But Rhio created his own treatment. He found non-traditional methods of dealing with his cancer. People have been using natural remedies for things since the beginning of time, so they must have some purpose. If medicine doesn’t work, find something else. There is so much else out there that people have forgotten about or dismissed just because other things came along. But you can’t discount ancient remedies and the resources that God gave us.
One of the resources that we are given is our family and loved ones. I have to believe that Rhio did not do all of this on his own. I’m certain that he had the support and help and encouragement from his loved ones. And I’m also sure that he didn’t just leave them behind and quit living because he was focused on his research. Obviously the research would take a lot of time. But if you quit living and loving because you were focused on something else, then there would be no point in extending your life. Even when you are perfectly healthy and happy, if you don’t live your life to the fullest, you are wasting it.
This is something that I believe would be even more important to me if I were facing a dire prognosis. I would make sure to do what I’d always wanted, to love, to laugh, to learn and discover and really value my loved ones. I wouldn’t let my disease stop me from living a full and enjoyable life full of love. Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” I don’t think a person should ever stop examining their life and making sure that they get everything they want out of it. I would do that if I were sick just as I do now when I am healthy.
One of the things I would continue to examine and work with would be research of the disease I was suffering from. I would do everything I could to help along the research of my disease in hopes that people wouldn’t have to suffer from it any more. If this meant donating my time, money, or body, I would do it if it meant that there was a possibility that it could lead to a cure or better treatment.
I have an uncle who was diagnosed with kidney cancer about a year and a half ago. When he was first diagnosed, they didn’t think he had too much longer to live. The cancer was caught pretty late and had already done a lot of damage to his body. But he had surgeries, radiation, took some experimental medications and has done what he could to keep himself around. Unfortunately, he is still sick. He is fighting with all he can but the cancer is winning. The doctors now say he probably only has weeks left at most. He has fought hard but doesn’t have much energy left to fight. It’s heartbreaking to see such a strong man losing the fight. But he is still living and loving and laughing to the best of his ability.
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have diseases like cancer and we wouldn’t have to suffer or see our loved ones suffer. But we live in an imperfect world where these things exist. The least we can do is live our lives to the fullest while we can, and fight the diseases that prevent some people from doing that. We need to encourage and support the research of these deadly diseases so that someday, maybe our world can be a little more perfect and we won’t have to see people go through these kinds of ordeals.