James “Rhio” O’Connor was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, and was only given a short period of time to live. With persistence, extensive research and by never losing hope, Rhio outlived his prognosis by many years.
Mesothelioma is rare cancer which affects the mesothelium, the protective sac the covers the body’s internal organs. It is very deadly because it can spread to nearby tissues and organs. A common cause of Mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos and symptoms don’t always show until many years after exposure. Because the symptoms of Mesothelioma including, shortness of breath and/or chest pains and weight loss, are so common in many other illnesses, Mesothelioma is very hard to diagnose. Common treatments of Mesothelioma include chemotherapy and surgery, but the success rate for these treatments is very low.
Rhio’s story is inspiring in many ways, but above all, Rhio’s story inspires me to never give up when facing a challenge, whether it is an extraordinary one like cancer or the small obstacles we face day to day. His story truly shows how powerful our minds and bodies are, especially when working together to achieve a common goal. We have the power inside of us to make amazing things happen, although many of us will never even get close to reaching our full potential, both physically and mentally. Instead of just taking what his doctor told him verbatim and losing hope, Rhio dug deep within himself and used optimism and knowledge to survive.
If I were faced with the same challenge as Rhio of having an “incurable” cancer, I would try to have the courage to be optimistic and open-minded. You hear stories of people surviving cancer and other diseases through treatments, but also through positive thinking, visualization, laughter and happiness. It may seem like a far cry to some people, but that would be my first step in getting better. I would stay positive and surround myself with things that make me the happiest. I would try to keep as much negative energy away from me as possible.
My next step would be to research as many treatments as possible. I would gather information and opinions from multiple doctors and specialists, both general and alternative. I would more than likely follow alternative medical treatments because I believe that my body would have a much more positive reaction and would accept natural medicines with more ease than it would with harsh medicines and chemicals. Along these same lines, I would immediately begin to follow a strict Macrobiotic diet. A Macrobiotic diet consists of eating nurturing grains and rice and fruits and vegetables that are in season. It is said that many cancer patients turn to Macrobiotics to aid in their treatments. Eating processed foods takes much more energy and strength from our bodies to break down and digest than it does for natural, whole foods. The whole foods supply our bodies with energy. I would want my body to have as much fuel and energy as it could to work on fighting the cancer, rather than battling harsh foods.
Along with that I would also try to keep my body as strong as possible by continuing to work out and be fit. Although some treatments, such as chemotherapy, can make your body weak, I would try to do whatever my body was capable of. Working out releases endorphins, which make you feel good and happy, and, like I previously stated, I would want to stay as happy and positive as possible.
Following that, I would continue my research and look for stories from other survivors to find as many helpful tips and resources as possible from actual people that had actually experienced the disease first-hand. Not only would it be educational, it would also give more hope that I could win the fight over the cancer if I found other people that had also beat it. I would also research many medical books to learn as much as I could about the disease, that way I would be able to follow what the doctor’s said to me more clearly regarding treatments and reactions my body might have to them and that in turn would help me to make more informed decisions regarding the treatments I choose.
While being diagnosed with cancer would be terrifying and heart breaking, I hope I would be able to turn the experience into a journey of knowledge and new experiences. Even if it might be the last endeavor I would ever take on, I would try to make the most of it and look at the wealth of knowledge and new acquaintances as blessings. I would hope that I would make positive and lasting impressions on everyone I came in contact with, so that whether I survived or not, my story of perseverance would live on and inspire others, just as Rhio’s has.
By: Mosley, Cari B.