Pulda, LeAnn A. – Surviving Mesothelioma

Pulda, LeAnn A.

THE INSPIRATION OF JAMES “RHIO” O’CONNOR

The story of Rhio O’ Connor is inspiring to me because, though he was faced with a diagnosis of a life-ending illness and only a year to live, he did not give up hope or just take his fate as it was handed to him. He decided to put up a fight against a disease that takes too many too quickly. He won that battle for far more many years than anyone thought he would have. Each day is a victory and, he had many.

Cancer is such a heartbreaking disease that affects too many people, their families, and friends. Cancer has affected my family a great deal. My grandmother and aunt both had breast cancer, they both won those fights. My brother is currently facing a possible diagnosis of bone cancer, he is in the beginning phase of being tested to find out for sure but, he is quiet about this possibility. Some friends have or had family members with cancer diagnosis, some with happy endings and some without. My husband’s mother passed away when he was fifteen years old from leukemia. I have seen how this still affects him and his family members twenty years later. Cancer takes too much from too many, it knows no boundaries for age, race, family, or income, it comes out of the night it seems and comes with such surprise. There are too many sad cases where the fight doesn’t last long and the cancer wins. There are those wonderful instances where the cancer loses entirely and you can live freely and appreciate each breath of air and ray of sun. In Mr. O’Connor’s case, I am sure that each day had been a blessed gift and I hope that others have learned and will learn from him that it is worth a fight, because it can be beaten, even if it is just getting an extra month of living your life and spreading your love and hope, of holding your loved ones and saying your prayers.

If I were given a dire prognosis such as his, I would try to fight it to the very end. I would not give up hope or give up the fight; I have two children and a wonderful husband and family that I do not want to be taken from early. I want to live my life to see grandchildren and great-grandchildren be born. I want to see my children grow and succeed and enjoy their life and be there for them when life isn’t always kind. I would fight for them every day; I would fight for me every day…every second. I would fight for my children to see that every breath is worth a fight and every day is a gift from God. I would always let them know that no matter what, we should celebrate life, hold our memories in our hearts, laugh together, forgive when need be, and that through all, they are the greatest gift, my life, my heart, my love, my breath, and I will continue on through them and will be forever grateful for them.

I would try to seek every available treatment option, from traditional methods to homeopathic remedies. I would discuss options with every person that I could come across, from doctors, to friends, family, representatives of alternative medicine, church members, just everyone that I could think of that would have insight. I would read every article I could find and research at the library, on the internet, everywhere that I could think of. I would not give up or give in. Life is too precious to lose and my family is too valuable to me to not fight for.

I hope that the story of Rhio O’Connor will inspire others to look for every option open to them. Cancer is a devastating diagnosis to be handed out but he is proof that even with a dire diagnosis, there is hope. For a man to take one year and turn it into six is nothing short of a miracle. With help from God and with the perseverance and determination of one man a true miracle occurred. I think that is something to remember and a story to pass on.

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