Munoz, Abraham – Surviving Mesothelioma

Munoz, Abraham

A Champion’s Heart

Throughout life, I’ve seen many cases where people lose hope and give up their dreams only because they are shut down by others. Some of them want to complete different things during a lifetime, and some have a family or someone to live for. There are the ones that don’t even have a dream, I think of them as empty lives; as if they are just people roaming around the world with no inspiration to overcome themselves. The ones believing that everything is possible but they don’t really believe in themselves. And at last the few who succeeded, the devoted, the fearless, the ones with the courage; the people like James “Rhio” O’Connor.

I point myself to the group of strong-minded and successful, a day in my shoes is not so simple. Waking up very early to attend school, having a part-time and a full-time job, training in the boxing gym right after work, volunteering for biomed tech/engineering tasks, making time for my social life and family it’s not a normal day for some people. Becoming successful it’s not something you already have in your blood, neither something you would just buy at a convenient store. It requires motivation, lots of efforts, something that tells you to never quit and to be the best of the best at everything you do. As for me, I wasn’t ever the A+ kid during my high school years, I was an average kid with average grades, and in fact I didn’t really cared about my grades or accomplishing something great. Nothing changed in me until I graduated from High School.

At that time both of my older brothers had moved out of town to pursue their studies. They seemed to be doing well, until my family found out one of my brothers is mentally ill. Right after he graduated from college he was diagnosed with bipolar disease and he had tried to suicide himself various times before. The misfortune affected not only me or him but my whole family. We were emotionally affected because we are a very close and loving family, and we are still financially affected because he couldn’t and still can’t work to pay the school loans he has under my parent’s names, which my dad pays now. It impacted my entire life how everyone was suffering, I would see my mom shed tears most days and my dad struggle with bills and mortgage payments. I couldn’t take this no more, I had to keep my family and myself from drowning in depression, as a result I’ve started school and work to help them with everything I can. Having two jobs, getting my bachelors in biomedical engineering, having a healthy lifestyle, boxing and keep trying to be successful is what I do for I can see them happy and without worries.

James Rhio O’Connor is no different than me or than anybody in this planet, but he did something very distinct than what others would have done. At age of sixty-one he was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma (www.survivingmesothelioma.com) which is a rare form of cancer that develops from the protective lining that covers many of the body’s internal organs. It is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos which are naturally occurring silicate minerals. Mesothelioma most common site is the outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall, but it may also occur in the lining of the abdominal cavity, the heart or the pericardium (a sac that surrounds the heart). (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesothelioma ) Rhio was given less than a year to live and was advised to take his wife in a cruise, and hospice himself since there was nothing left to do. Instead, he had the courage to follow a new and different path that no one would have chosen. O’Connor began researching his type of cancer, he would spend hours in libraries, contacting and working with a wide selection of professional clinicians and researchers about the dire cancer. At last he created a different method to keep him alive. He relied on his own discipline, his own willpower and strength of mind to fight and win over “Mr. Meso”, as he would call the cancer. With an extremely strict diet, bunches of different vitamins every day, knowledge and determination, he survived seven and a half years of hard work after only less than a year was given.

After reading and learning about whom James Rhio O’Connor was, and what he did, it crossed my mind that he is no different than me, but then he still motivated me like no one for what he did. I began to question myself, “what was it that made Rhio not to give up his life so soon? A cure for mesothelioma? His wife and family?” If I knew of him before he passed away I would have traveled anywhere just to ask him what made him too strong. Doctors, athletes, artists, musicians and many of the people who have all the successful occupations and professions have different thing in life they have gone through which makes them stronger and makes the who they are. Just like them, I consider my family the most important thing in my life and they are the ones who give me power and mentality to keep going forward in order to content them and lift them up by being who I am and whom I am to be.

If I were to face the same challenges that Rhio dealt with, my first step would be to focus on my illness and deal with it just like Rhio did it. In a certain time where my life runs in danger like this there is no space or time for depression. Knowing that Rhio could do this at age of sixty-one cheers me up and motivates me to believe that I could do more and live more than what he did. I would notify my family as soon as possible therefore when the day I have to pass away comes they would not be so hurt.

As a second step to this calamity, I would start my research where James Rhio O’Connor left by reading his book “They Say Months, I Chose Years: A Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story”, by contacting all the doctors, clinicians, researchers and patients that he talked to educate myself. I would research the internet and libraries, contact the best medical schools and doctors from all around the world and if traveling to different countries is needed I will definitely do it. This will let me understand clearly what James Rhio underwent and most likely I would change my whole lifestyle, a more strict diet, exercise and better sleep. After collecting enough information to make my informed decision, I would be prone to organize a club/association/organization for the similarly affected where we can discuss and continue a joined research on what is better for all of us, pros and cons about surgery, therapy, chemotherapy, radiation and anything that would relate to our fight against the dire cancer. Websites, internet blogs, television commercials and the whole media community could be used to inform and join us to help others affected by the same cancer. I would just continue where this Inspiring man left, James Rhio O’Connor, whom I truly believed had a Champion’s Heart.

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