Rhio O’Connor’s story is one of many cancer patient stories. In my young life, I am all too familiar with similar stories of a personal nature. Between eighth grade and twelfth grade in high school, I had four very close friends battle cancer. Three of those four friends won their battle and are now in remission. One friend did not win. He died from a four year battle against liver cancer. The three who are survivors, battled Leukemia, Ewing Sarcoma, and brain cancer. Their valiant battle will forever live in my memory and has impacted my life in enormous ways. At a very young age, I understood simply how precious life is and that none of us are invincible. I also learned from them the meaning of strength, hope, faith, and laughter. Laughing together was our escape and also the best medicine available for their soul and mine.
As I read about Rhio O’Connor and his battle with Mesothelioma, I am reminded of my friends and I am inspired by his relentless pursuit of knowledge. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer where malignant cells are found in the mesothelium, which is a protective sac that covers most of the body’s internal organs. Exposure to asbestos at some time in your life is the main cause for this type of cancer. After his diagnosis, Rhio defied the odds and took his life in his own hands. He was not going to let someone else determine his course, but made the decision to choose the path best for him. The fact that he survived an additional six years, is a testament to how diet, nutrition, supplements, and alternative treatments can be the answer to prolonging life. This is what struck me most as I read Rhio’s story. Before the diagnosis of a terminal illness, we should all consider how our diets and lifestyles are adversely affecting our bodies. There are so many things we have control of to ensure a healthier lifestyle and longer life, and we should not wait for bad health news to begin living that way.
If I was diagnosed with cancer and given a dire prognosis, I would first pray to God for his guidance and healing touch. I would then remember Rhio and all my friends who faced this battle before me. I would recall their fight in order to give me strength, courage, and hope. I would count on my surviving friends to share all their knowledge with me relating to their research, their specific treatments, and their coping strategies. With my parents, I would assemble a team of doctors and trusted experts. This team would include Oncologists, Nutritionists, Homeopathic Doctors, Clergy, a Compounding Pharmacist, and more. As I read Rhio’s story, I believe so strongly in his pursuit of good nutrition, diet control, supplement therapy, and alternative methods of treatment. I would do exactly the same. I would seek the guidance of cancer research organizations to gain access to the vast, but reliable resources available on the internet and in the libraries. I would make it my mission to know everything I could about my type of cancer. I would seek all alternatives to treatment outside the standards of surgery, chemo and radiation.
As I studied my cancer and sought methods of treatment that would be right for me, I would try my best to maintain my normal life and routine. I would laugh a lot, and I know I could count on my family and friends to help with that! I would live every day like it was my last, as I try to do now. I would consider all the information I had learned, listen to the advice of all the experts, and in the end make the choice about my treatments based on my intellect, gut and heart.
I wonder how Rhio’s pursuit of knowledge was different from my friends who battled their own types of cancer. My guess is he was more focused on finding a cure or finding a way to lengthen his life, and my friends were more determined to keep their life normal and not miss out on their experiences in high school. At the young age of thirteen through seventeen, does it even settle in your mind that you are mortal and this disease can take your life? Or does your mind refuse to believe it and you just want to figure out a way to cope with the treatments and reach the day that you are cured and done with this inconvenience? It is an interesting question to think about. I am now nineteen, and I believe I would be relentless in the pursuit of knowledge, treatments, and cure, as Rhio was. Perhaps, however, I would also have a balance of the young minded oblivion. This could be a blessing as well!