Strong Spirit

The lack of knowledge can kill us or lessen our chance of survival. Over the centuries, scientists and researchers have made considerable advances and the causes and treatments of cancers.  A cancer that is common and well known for damaging and collapsing the lung is called pleural mesothelioma. The most common cause for pleural mesothelioma is the inhaling of asbestos fibers or dusts. “Pleural mesothelioma symptoms are fever, nausea, sudden weight loss, chest pain, and breathlessness”1 resulting in anoxia, but these symptoms are common in other diseases making it difficult for the accurate diagnose of mesothelioma. To add to the difficulty of the accurate diagnose of mesothelioma, it symptoms may not present for up to 30 years of first contact with asbestos particles. The progression from onset of the disease can fluctuate in time, but usually it is too late once the cancer is diagnosed.

Acknowledging the diagnosed of mesothelioma from your physician can be difficult, but it is more devastating to acknowledge that you may have less than a year to live. However, that didn’t stop James “Rhio” O’Connor from continuing to fight for his life. At the age of 62, Mr. O’Connor was not ready to leave his family. Mr. O’Connor looked into surgery, but soon discovered that it would be impossible because of the location of the tumor. Chemotherapy is not much better, considering its side effects and would not improve his length of life.  Discovering the bad news that these treatments would do him no good empowered him to find his own cure. He spent countless hours researching in libraries, talking to patients, listening to doctors’ theories and suggestions, and working with researchers about further understanding the long and short term side effects of the treatments that he would receive.  Based on the information that he received, he was able to create his own therapeutic protocol and allow him to make informed choices, which helped him live more than 7 years 1. To help others, he wrote a book called “They Said Months, I chose Years: A Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story,” discussing the rigorous process that he went through, to inspire other cancer patients suffered from mesothelioma and provide them with hope.

I was pleased to find James “Rhio” O’Connor’s Memorial webpage ( and I am glad to have read Mr. O’Connor’s life changing story, and how a strong spirit can allow one to do the seemingly impossible. Knowing that many people are suffering from mesothelioma and after reading Mr. O’Connor’s story, it has inspired me to continue with my goal to becoming a robotics engineer. With the advance in technology and medicine, a combination of these two fields can allow doctors and engineers to go beyond places that were thought impractical or science fiction. With the stress and struggle of life, Mr. O’Connor’s story has inspired me to fight for myself and be strong mentally and physically. In addition, Mr. O’Connor’s story has opens my mind to the further understanding of the power of the mind.

As a reader of this essay, I want you to answer this question with me. What would I do if I faced the same challenges that Mr. O’Connor  faced? It looks like there are not many choices to choose from, and the treatments have many risk factors and side effects. Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery can be risky. Often, unsuccessful treatment can make the treatment frustrating.  At this point, the realization of your demise would be profound. Nevertheless, the best place to be find information regarding your own treatments in concert of that of your physician would be that on the internet and your public libraries. Would we not do numerous searches on the web for new and advanced methods of treating our cancer? I personally was watching an episode on PBS (Public Broadcasting System) a short time ago, the content of that program provided me with information regarding a new ingenious cancer medication that would destroy specific cancer cells with little or no side effects, “The Trojan Horse.”  “The ‘Trojan horse’ therapy uses a bacterially-derived nano-cell to penetrate and disarm the cancer cell before a second nano-cell kills it with chemotherapy drugs and has the potential to directly target cancer cells with chemotherapy, rather than the current treatment that sees chemotherapy drugs injected into a cancer patient and attacking both cancer and healthy cells.”2

The patient that PBS presented had his cancer slowly destroyed and on his way to recovery. In addition, I was able to go to the PBS homepage and research cancer treatment and discovered that recent research has founded that RNA interference (RNAi); a component of RNA that is a component of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), would be an alternative to chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery for many “incurable” diseases. “One of the most exciting areas of current biotechnology research is RNA interference, or RNAi, which is designed to silence the genes responsible for producing disease-causing proteins and a number of biotechnology companies are exploring ways to manipulate RNA to block genes that produce disease-causing proteins.”2 This new discovery provides a more favorable treatment future for many diseases. You will find more information about RNAi if visit PBS homepage on the internet. They have a short animated video clip and an easy explanation of how RNAi works and its successes. With this new information, we could look further into these areas of therapy. The resources that would help us make an informed decision on a possible treatment for mesothelioma would include the above and other successes treatments as apply to the patient’s surviving this disease.

Although it is difficult to be informed of the diagnoses that we have cancer, the first thing I would do is inform my family, seeking their support and inspiration for me to continue my fight with this disease. In addition, I would follow the steps that Mr. O’Connor followed in an attempt to obtain similar or better results. I would enjoy life to its fullest, acknowledging the blessing giving to me both spiritually and from those who have loved me.

One’s inspiration can come from different aspect of one’s life experiences inclusive of religious spirit rituality. These experiences like those of James Rhio O’Connor encourages people to “think outside the box,’ as for me, the very submission of this essay has open my eyes to only the financial benefit of the acceptance of this essay but also it has provide me with an emotional stimulus.  Mr. O’Connor’s stories have lessened my fear of the impossible, knowing that nothing is impossible. Therefore, the fear of cancer and many other dire diseases might not be something so devastating.  Along with the newer biological and technological advances in this area, ones spiritual and emotional calendar plays an essential part in the complete treatment plan.

Works Cited

1 “Mesothelioma Summary.” Surviving Mesothelioma: A Patient’s Guide. Cancer Monthly, Inc , 2009. Web. 13 Dec. 2009. <>.
2  “Symptoms of Mesothelioma.” Paul Danziger, n.d. Web. 2 Jan. 2010.
3 “‘Trojan horse’ cancer therapy beats tumours resistant to chemotherapy.” The Medical News. N.p., 28 June 2009. Web. 14 Dec. 2009.

By: Nguyen, Tu

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