Rhio O’Connor’s story is more than inspiring, it is more than a story about facing challenges and not giving up; it is about character. It is about a man that decided to beat the odds against him, to extend his life spam, to live life.
Rhio was diagnosed with mesothelioma. The National Cancer Institute defines malignant mesothelioma as “a rare form of cancer, is a disease in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the sac lining the chest (the pleura), the lining of the abdominal cavity (the peritoneum) or the lining around the heart (the pericardium).” (Mesothelioma – Answer to Malignant Mesothelioma Questions) The disease is considered incurable and it is caused by the exposure to asbestos. Asbestos are mineral fibers that are easily absorbed and inhaled by the body and create a negative reaction with the body tissue generating different types of cancer. (What is Asbestos? Asbestos Exposure Information and Mesothelioma)
When I first heard Rhio’s story I could not imagine how it would have been the reaction, the pain, the feeling inside when he heard the doctor’s diagnosis. You only have a year to live, the sentence pounded in my head for days as I tried to figure what I would do in such crucial moment in my life? A few more days past and I came to realize that I just did not want to die, not like this, not without a fight. My character could not just leave it to faith, or in the hands of someone else. I will do everything in my power to keep on going. I will do it not only for myself, but for my family, for my little brother that needs guidance and is looking up to me. From this realization I understood Rhio’s decision on getting informed, educating himself on this field, and moving on.
If I was diagnose with mesothelioma there are some primary steps that I will take. Since I have high computer literacy I would start my research online, there are many great websites such as www.asbestos.com and www.mesotheliomaweb.org where to get informed regarding this type of cancer. Once I had sufficient knowledge and understanding of the disease I will consult with different doctors on possible treatments and their side effects, then I will get in touch with patients that had the disease and are already undergoing some type of treatment. I will ask them to give me their impression and signs on the effects and outcomes of the treatments they are taking and what they particularly recommend, which ones make them feel better. After all of this is done the hardest choice begins, to actually select and choose a treatment, a diet, a primary doctor, and a facility were to undergo the treatment. Also, I need to change my way of living, my habits and routines. Lastly, decide for how long I will wait for a positive result or a delay on the expansion of the cancer as an outcome of the treatment selected, and if it is not working what other alternative (plan b) do I have. At first I will attempt to avoid chemo, radiation, surgery, etc. I will go for something more natural, healthier since in case that a natural approach does not work at least my body will be in a better shape to withstand a treatment such as chemo. At the same time from the very beginning of my diagnose, I will try to have as much fun, good moments, an memories with my family and support them as much as I can to make them feel comfortable since my eventual death a year or eight from now is inevitable.
What amazes me the most, what inspired me was the result of his efforts. He exceeded his prognosis for more than six years. He created his own personal treatment protocol based on his research and assistance of clinics. It is inspiring because I feel sometimes sad, depressed, and even powerless against challenges that I had to face and continue to face until this very day. However, any of my challenges are near as mentally and physically challenging as being diagnosed with mesothelioma an incurable cancer. He represents and gives meaning to the phrase “it can be done” and “nothing is impossible”.
My point is that it takes a person of great spirit, character, and believe on himself/herself to accomplished such task. It makes me want to be like him. I want to apply his methodology and way of seen life and challenges. I want to spread his story and motivate other to face their challenges with his optimism.
I thank Rhio for his courage and for the legacy his left behind.
References Mesothelioma – Answer to Malignant Mesothelioma Questions. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2010. What is Asbestos? Asbestos Exposure Information and Mesothelioma. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2010.