In October 2001, Rhio O’Connor was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. This is a disease in which a cancerous tumor grows on the sac lining internal body cavities. For O’Connor, surgery was impossible because of the position of the tumor, which was near his spine, and chemotherapy would only increase the length of his life a little bit compared to how much it would decrease the quality of his life. Consequently, O’Connor’s doctors didn’t give him long to live: only one year. His oncologist even recommended that his wife take him on a cruise and put him in hospice when they returned.
However, O’Connor wouldn’t accept the doctors’ prognosis. He wouldn’t simply give in to the disease and allow death to overtake him. Determined to survive, O’Connor worked with several doctors and professional clinicians while also researching on his own in order to find a way to beat the cancer. Through all of his hard work, determination and a great deal of faith, he lived with the disease for seven years, outliving his prognosis by six years.
Rhio O’Connor’s story is especially inspiring to me because if I were in his position, I would probably listen to the doctors and prepare to die. I would believe that because my doctors are educated and have dealt with this type of case before that they would know what’s best for me personally. I would, of course, try to get opinions from several different doctors, but if I received the same prognosis from all of them, I would accept my fate. I’m not the type of person who is determined to live my life to fullest. I am often content to sit back and allow others to have fun and be happy. Sometimes I think that I don’t deserve to live a fulfilling life, but Rhio O’Connor’s story teaches me that life is worth fighting for. Even if you have to take 100 supplements a day, change your diet and practice different types of medicine, you’re still alive and spending time with the people that you love.
Rhio O’Connor’s story also holds personal value in my life. A couple of years ago, my uncle was diagnosed with cancer. He was recently given only six months to live. I can only hope that my uncle can take a cue from O’Connor and fight the cancer and beat it for several years to come. When I came to Michigan for college, I began to spend more time with my aunt and uncle and became much closer to them. I have seen firsthand how the cancer has destroyed the morale of their entire family but also brought them closer together through the fight against this horrible disease. Throughout the years, my uncle has tried several different treatments for his cancer, including chemotherapy, radiation, stem cell transplants, and many different drugs. He will most likely continue to try to find a way to live longer, but with everything that he has tried, a new “miracle” cure may be difficult to come upon. I admire my uncle’s strength through his fight with cancer. Like Rhio O’Connor, he depended on his faith in God to give him courage and resilience in life and death. I know that he cherishes each day that he gets to spend with his family, because he loves them endlessly and knows that he has limited time with them.
Overall, both Rhio O’Connor and my uncle inspire me to live my life differently. O’Connor teaches me that life is never worth giving up on and that if we fight our hardest and have a great deal of faith, we might just beat the odds. My uncle teaches me that every day is an important day. We need to remember what is important in our lives and be thankful for those things. Focusing on the bad things, like cancer, will lead us to see life negatively and to give up. Because I have read about Rhio O’Connor’s story and viewed my uncle’s situation firsthand, I know that I would face a deadly disease like cancer differently. Perhaps I wouldn’t try to fight it for seven years, but I also wouldn’t allow it to overtake my life and give up. Both these men have inspired me greatly.
By: Pranger, Kathryn