I Will Choose to Live
John Diamond said “Cancer is not a word, it’s a sentence.” Cancer is one of the most feared “sentences” in any hospital today. Almost everyone has lost loved ones to this terrible disease, but when one is cured of this catastrophic sentence, it seems to be a miracle. To be honest, I hadn’t ever heard of the cancer victim, James “Rhio” O’Connor, before today. The moment I read his story I was touched. I’ve had the difficulty of saying goodbye to loved ones from cancer, but I’ve also had the joy of seeing one of my closest friends live 10 years of being cancer free after she was told she had months to live. If I was faced with this disease, I would remember O’Connor, and I would remember my friend.
James “Rhio” O’Connor inspires me because of how hard he fought. He didn’t beat science, but he used it to his advantage; he used methods that even the doctors didn’t believe in. When O’Connor was diagnosed with mesothelioma he didn’t give up like most of us would. He only looked ahead. After taking numerous supplements, completely changing his diet, and using his mind as medicine, James “Rhio” O’Connor lived over 6 years longer than what the doctors had told him he’d live.
Mesothelioma, the cancer that James “Rhio” O’Connor survived for so long with, is a malignant cancer in the mesothelium. The mesothelium is the protective lining that covers many of the body’s intestinal organs. Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos are fibers that were often the ideal material used to insulate places such as pipes and the insides of many buildings. Asbestos are no longer used to insulate such a wide variety of places for this very reason: it’s potentially lethal. I have been in an old building with these fibers covering the walls, although I was unaware of this at the time, I was exposed.
I imagine myself awaiting the test results when the doctor enters the rooms and tells me, “It’s cancer.” My life feels like it’s over, but I will not lose hope. I listen to the possibilities of radiation, surgery, or chemotherapy, but when these possibilities seem futile, I still fight. Lance Armstrong said that “If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell.” O’Connor fought like hell and I will do the same.
My friend, Felicia Zachary-Jackson, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer just over 11 years ago. When she found out, she went through chemotherapy, but eventually was told she had just months to live. This was the moment she felt like her life was over. She began to die. This triggered something in her. She knew this wasn’t when or how she was going to die. She immediately began researching. Felicia reminds me of O’Connor because she consumed countless supplements and had faith greater than I can imagine. She became cancer free in 1998.
I will conduct more research than I ever have for any school assignment or work project. This will result in my life or my death. Felicia will be the first person that I consult. I will ask her exactly what her regimen was and then I will consult countless physicians and research countless articles on the internet. As I do this, I will always remember James “Rhio” O’Connor. This is only an obstacle in my life, not the end of it. Although cancer may be a sentence, I won’t let it sentence me for life.
Cancer does not have to be a life sentence, it can be just another word. It is what you make it. At the end of my story, I see myself in Felicia’s place. I will be victorious in my fight against cancer. I will remember my loved ones who have died from this terrible sentence, and I will remember James “Rhio” O’Connor who is an inspiration to everyone who has been, will be, or knows someone diagnosed with cancer.