Perseverance is something that is very inspiring, especially when it is seen under the toughest of circumstances. In the words of G.B. Shaw, “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” This quote describes James Rhio O’Connor very well. He did not let his circumstance define who he was. Rhio was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of sixty-one and was given approximately one year to live. The tumor near his spine was deemed inoperable and chemotherapy was decided to be unhelpful in his case. It would only decrease his quality of life and would not give him any more time than he already had. When given this news, Rhio decided he was going to find a way to survive regardless of the prognosis he was given.

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that forms in the protective lining that covers the body’s internal organs, called the mesothelium. This form of cancer is most always caused by exposure to asbestos. It is most commonly found in the pleura, the outer lining of the lungs, but can also occur in the peritoneum, the heart, or the pericardium. There is ongoing research to develop a way to diagnose mesothelioma early so that there can be a better prognosis and greater chance for treatment.

Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer in most cases, but Rhio was not about to let that stand in his way. He consulted many physicians, read lots of books and came up with many ways to improve his health and increase his survival time. Being able to alter your entire life and keep with it in order to live is something that is very deserving of respect. Persistence and perseverance in a situation such as his, is very difficult. Most people would just give up and accept what the doctors have told them and try to make the most of the time they had left, but this was not enough for Rhio and because of that he survived seven and a half years longer than was expected. “Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over” according to F. Scott Fitzgerald and that is exactly what Rhio O’Connor did.

Reading Rhio’s story really inspired me. Seeing someone so persistent and willing to do whatever it takes to survive made me realize how precious our time here on earth is. I always valued my life and did everything I could to make sure it was good, but reading about Rhio made me want to find a way to do more. If faced with the challenges that Rhio faced, I am not one hundred percent sure what I would do. I definitely would want to do whatever possible to make sure that I lived for as long as I could. I would talk to many doctors and do a lot of research on the cancer and try to determine what the best course of treatment would be for me. Not only would I consult doctors, but I would also talk everything over with my family and friends because they are the important people in my life and I would value their thoughts and opinions and consider them seriously when making decisions about treatments and future life decisions.

If given a poor cancer prognosis, I would have many things to consider. First I would start by telling my family seeing where they are the most important people and the ones I would lean on for help. Next I would sit down with doctors and learn about different courses of treatment and which would be the most promising and other ways of increasing my chances of survival or my time left. After speaking with the doctors about their suggested courses of treatment I would then do some research on my own and try to figure out the best way to go. If doctors suggested chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery and they did not offer much, then I would try to find something that would do more, but if there was nothing else I would go with one of those courses of treatment because even if they do not do much it is still something and I cannot see myself just giving up. I would want to try to do something, even if that something is not much. Cancer is a scary thing and surviving a cancer diagnosis takes a lot out of a person. I personally hope that it is something I never have to experience in my life. If it does happen then I know I will do everything in my power to try to survive and make my time worthwhile. James Rhio O’Connor is a courageous man and his story is very inspiring and I hope that it will continue to inspire others the way it has inspired me.

By: McCarthy, Rhiannon

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