O’Neal, Brian | Surviving Mesothelioma

O’Neal, Brian

James “Rhio” O’Connor was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a type of fatal cancer, at the age of 61; the doctors gave him less than a year to live. The doctors suggested he take his wife on a cruise and upon returning, admit himself into hospice care. O’Connor rejected this suggestion and began researching his cancer and it’s treatments. He sought to independently manage his life, and to live it fully for as long as possible. O’Connor died at the age of 69 in 2009, exceeding his medical expectations by over seven years. This story is inspirational to anyone facing an obstacle with a nebulous outcome.

Although James did not “defeat” his death, he did stave it off for a remarkable length of time. In terms of obstacles, a terminal prognosis would be one of the most difficult to overcome; any other obstacle that I face seems less daunting. If James found a way to extend his prognosis by more than seven years, then I believe that there is a way to overcome any obstacle with enough determination.

Although a significant age difference affects how I would react in the same situation, I too would do my best to live my life as fully as I could, having lived 18 years rather than 61 years. However, if I were given a limited life expectancy I would try to make as much of a positive difference as I could before I died. I would be more concerned with living a full life, than a long one. I would spend more time volunteering and traveling to places in need, rather than spending that time researching how I could prolong my life. I was blessed with a deep compassion for people and consequently I would help as many people as I could while I was alive. I do agree, however, with the concept of living a healthy life as opposed to extreme medical alternatives. I would live as long as I could by living a healthy life, not a conservative one.

If I did choose to conduct research on the cancer, I would consult as many reliable sources as I knew. I would ask advice from the most prestigious and reputable oncologists, and read credible articles about the latest cancer research. If radiation therapy, surgery, or chemotherapy were not a promising solution, I would look to more natural supplements and strategies, much like O’Connor. I always hope a healthy life style will maintain a physical and psychological balance, and limit my dependence on medical care; however, medicine is adequately credible in many cases and should be taken seriously when there is no alternative. I believe medical help should always compliment a healthy diet and exercise.

I would also look to the advise of other cancer patients. Through their experiences I would gain a well-rounded idea of what works and what experiences I have in store, although it is not the same for everyone.

Again, if diagnosed with cancer, I would not choose to spend the time and effort to merely extend my life. If I was given a shortened life expectancy I would spend the time making as much of a positive difference as I could. John “Rhio” O’Connor’s temporary triumph over his fate is inspirational for me; it is easier, now, for me to see a positive outcome past difficult obstacles. From this story I also realized I do not need to wait for a death sentence to live to my desired potential.

I am currently living in such a way that I will probably have very little regret in terms of what I choose what to do and what not to do. This story of James “Rhio” O’Connor inspires me to live a life as if I were destined to die in a short amount of time. James’ life caused me to consider all the desires that I “would” have if I were going to die shortly. I would like to live as though I were going to die tomorrow. Conventionally it may be perceived that you would want to do things because you don’t “care” if you die, but I would like to change how I am living in a more benevolent manner; as if I were not given another chance to do so.

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