Rhio O’Conner was diagnosed with Pleural Mesothelioma in October of 2001. Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the lining of the lung and chest cavity when asbestos fibers manage their way into the small areas of the lungs and then into the pleura. This is when an unknown chemical reaction occurs that causes cancerous cells to develop. When the abnormal cells begin to divide the lining thickens which causes shortness of breath. Other symptoms of Mesothelioma are chest pain, weight loss, and night sweats. The typical treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. These are the things Rhio O’Conner looked past and found relief in non-traditional methods. O’Conner did not have the options of these traditional treatments for the most part because the tumor was too close to his spine and chemotherapy would not have helped to increase lifespan and decreased his quality of life significantly. Rhio O’Conner changed his lifestyle dramatically, taking over 100 supplements a day, changing his everyday diet, and participating in mind-body medicine. His ability to keep his spirit up and keep looking for new options allowed him to live passed his 1 year diagnosis to live for 7 ½ more years until he died July 11, 2009.
It is extremely hard to even imagine having a doctor tell me that I have been diagnosed with an incurable cancer and that I have one year to live. Those words are something that no one would ever expect to hear. It is hard to say what it is that I would do if I were going through the same thing Rhio O’Conner went through but non-traditional treatment options is what I would be looking at as well, especially since I am a Recreation Therapy major. I think that I would start by using internet resources to find out more specific information about the cancer and other options that have been used by others. What I believe could possibly be a huge help if traditional treatment options were not effective would be clinical trials. Some experimental therapies that I found, which have yet to be approved, are; photodynamic therapy, gene therapy, and Immunotherapy. The one that I would want to try would be gene therapy, which targets tumors by altering genetic defects that allow for a tumor to develop. What they call a “suicide gene” is put into the tumor making it sensitive to a drug it is normally not responsive to. This drug is then inserted into the cells killing them without harming any healthy cells. I think that talking to specialist input would be helpful but doing your own research would be the most effective to figure out what other types of treatments are out there. Participating in mind-body therapies like Rhio O’Conner did would be extremely helpful in keeping your mind and body relaxed and healthy.