“After All, It Isn’t Death It’s Only… Cancer”

If you have ever seen the face of cancer on someone diagnosed with it, then you know that the last thing the individual wants is pity. I have learned about struggle, hardship, the will to fight, and determination through everyday struggles and obstacles, but nothing has been as impacting as the lesson I’ve learned from James Rhio O’conner; a lesson about leaving pity behind and defying impossibilities. Tommy Lasorda’s words describe Rhio’s legacy, “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.” James Rhio O’Connor aside from being a cancer survivor was an ordinary man with ordinary problems. Rhio had everyday life burdens and worries. O’Connor’s struggle with and continuous triumph over cancer is an inspirational accomplishment that has started a movement. O’Conner was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a form of carcinoma of the mesothilum (membrane that forms the lining of the heart, abdomen and lungs.) O’Connor’s prognosis was to live less than a year; however, he lived 7 1/2 years passed his medical prognosis. “Rhio” looked beyond the standard treatments of chemotherapy and radiation. O’Connor indulged himself in a search for possibilities through various alternative treatments; in doing so O’Connor defied the impossible.

Cancer… The silence after a shocking diagnosis can overwhelm even the toughest of men. “Mami, tengo…cancer”- mom, I have cancer. The frigidness of the word cancer transcends even language barriers; its tone is mostly associated with demise, fatality, and injustice. Cancer, arises the famous question: “why me?” I consider myself to be of strong character and after the news of being diagnosed with a dire cancer; I would most likely drown in depression, desperation, denial, and worst of all, acceptance. After researching Rhio O’Connor’s battle, I know that if faced with such a dreadful event I could launch myself into retaliation mode; into what my family would call being necio –Spanish for stubborn – . I would make a stand against the threat within my body— cancer. Rhio’s story has re-affirmed my dream of pursuing a medical profession. I now hold the inspiration to not only search for new cancer treatments within conventional medicine, but to also open up to the various possibilities proved to be effective through individuals like James Rhio O’Connor.

I believe that the will to keep living is life. The battle against cancer can be one of the most challenging and exhausting events of a man’s life, if not the most. Moreover a battle is defined as an open clash between two opposing sides; automatically I have to be willing to fight. My struggle and battle against cancer would begin with an optimistic spirit. Mark Twain once said, “Optimist: Person who travels on nothing from nowhere to happiness.” I could have the best medical team at my disposal and great odds of recovery with treatments, but if I lack the will to live then most likely the battle would be pointless. Rhio’s fight started with an “optimistic spirit” and his choice to defy man’s impossibilities, They said months. I chose years! If I underwent the same procedures that Rhio went through, but undetermined, I strongly doubt the outcome would be as successful as O’Connor’s. In order to succeed I would develop the same self-confidence Rhio possessed (because over 100 supplements alone aren’t enough to stop cancer), it takes a special inner strength to succeed. My will to live would be within my family, friends, and loved ones, along with my dream of a medical career. I consider friends and family more significant. Friends and family would be my backbone in the fight against cancer. I want to live to share my goals and victories with my family and friends. My emotional state is a crucial part of my recovery process. Healing my emotions while I heal my body, in my view, is the best strategy against cancer and family plays and essential role in that aspect of the fight. Strength lies in numbers and everyone knows that working together, ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things. My team will include not only my family, but a well constituted array of experts and researchers, and also alternative treatment clinicians.

Strength through others is an essential part of my battle against cancer. Opportunities will broaden with help; more doors will be available for the opening. Wars aren’t won by one individual; they are won by soldiers, supporters and contributors. The greatest achievements in science are a convergence of the work and determination of many inspired scientists. On a different perspective of help, I need to look for financial support from foundations and charities because like many other families, money is also an issue in my own. A critical step is paying for my cancer treatments and alternatives. Cancer and its aftermath bring about side effects, late effects etc; they need funding as well. Researching for payment options is important. I would consider CancerAssist and the Patient Advocate Foundation among other help sources that could help me get a start on treatments; getting this done would lessen my stress. Even thought chemotherapy and radiation bring about fatigue and depressing life-style conditions, I would moderate between both chemotherapy and alternative treatments. I say, if I want to live, why not both? Once I have assured I can pay for the financial burden, then I would begin to utilize my nonconformist character; to look beyond is to change the boundaries of possibilities.

I would need to fight the aggressiveness of cancer with intellect, as did Rhio. I would research cancer as a condition to the fullest and therefore, increase my odds of success. What is cancer? What factors speed cancer? What is the body’s response to fight back? How can I improve my overall health to resist cancer? I would take advantage of my university’s journal database. I would sign up for cancer workshops offered at various universities and hospitals around the nation. Also I would contact clinicians researching alternative treatments on my specific cancer and cancer in general. My list of research could be enough for a book. Reading is the most conventional method of learning; I would try to find information on research like selective toxicity, and vitamin B17, which is said to specifically kill cancer cells. I would read published research as well as reports and statistics on survival rates and the factors involved with different cancer patients. I would need to educate myself, learn the medical language, embrace the world of oncology, and dare I say, become a cancer specialist for the sake of my life. The battle against cancer isn’t just about spirits and the will to live. The battle is like a game of chess; your opening always determines how well you will develop later in the game. The more pieces you involve in the game, the more options of attack that you have, as well more choices of defense for your king. This would mean that a new lifestyle is essential; one where I am aware of every possible carcinogen. Chess is a game of wit and strategy, mental awareness and supremacy over your foe. I would need a list of everyday products like soaps, deodorants, toothpastes and a variety of food products that have carcinogens, even in small amounts carcinogens promote my decaying condition. Cancer is the dreaded-almost undefeated- opponent sitting across the chess table. My goal is to contend it with spirit and brains.

Once I am up to date with the most current facts about carcinogens and about cancer-specifically my own- then I am ready to begin my attack with various intakes of anticancer supplements. My choice of supplements and intakes would include fatty acids, omega-3-fish-oil, liver paste, whey proteins, tomatoes, glucans from mushrooms, vitamin A, seaweed, beats, and plant extracts like quercetin all of which have shown anti-cancer activity. If I close myself up to new concepts, then I also close myself up to new possible opportunities. I think that as long as I fight I will be alive. People, who are victims of cancer, choose to be victims. Cancer is a condition; society makes it a tyrant who enslaves its host. We choose from the beginning how we will react to cancer, for better or worse. Cancer alone is a mighty army with the devastating power to take a man’s life before affecting body. Rhio proved to be a great contender; he defeated cancer without a doubt in his mind that he would ever lose. Rhio became that single drop of water- seemingly insignificant- that started the corrosion of a devastating condition. Rhio established the awareness that cancer doesn’t have to be the synonym of death. As long as I live, I will have a fighting spirit, an open mind, a determined intellectual perspective, and that nonconformist-character. My name is Alberto Negrellos, and if I was diagnosed with a dire cancer I would not humble myself to cancer, I would be ready and willing to continue the legacy left behind by James Rhio O’conner. After all, it isn’t death it’s only…Cancer.

By: Negrellos-Aguilera, Alberto

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