Rhio’s Story

Many people alive today have no idea about just how precious each day is and every breath we take. In most cases, people just see it as another day. I believe that our everyday lifestyle and responses to life would drastically change if we were given a dire cancer prognosis as to how much time we had left to live, laugh and love. As sad as it is, we all at some point in our life have to come to the realization that death is a part of life, and for some, it comes sooner than later. And that is when Rhio’s story began.

James O’Connor (Rhio) was diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma. “Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer in which malignant (cancerous) cells are found in the mesothelium, a protective sac that covers most of the body’s internal organs (National Cancer Institute Mesothelioma: Questions and Answers). For many, if we were given a dire prognosis with a deadly form of cancer we would not fully accept this fact; James however, did just the opposite. James was given only a year to live after he was diagnosed with his deadly form of cancer. Instead of giving up on life, James faced it with courage and bravery. After being diagnosed, Rhio spent much of his time and effort in thoroughly researching his cancer. Rhio spoke to many medical professionals such as doctors, and got their opinions on his case and how it should be handled and treated. He also talked to researchers and past patients who have had mesothelioma. Of all the patients (past and present) that Rhio talked to, he learned about their story in life while dealing with cancer, he learned about the different kinds of therapy there where and what they had to offer. Still, Rhio went on.

With all of his effort in researching mesothelioma, his hard work finally paid off. After gathering much information about mesothelioma and now being more knowledgeable in that area, Rhio created his own agenda of daily living and he “outlived his prognosis by more than six years” ( Cancer Monthly, para 3). “Through this rigorous process, Rhio was able to help create his own therapeutic protocol alongside the clinicians that he selected” (Cancer Monthly, para 3).

Rhios story inspires me because it teaches to never give up and to fight for what you believe in. If we face life one day at a time, be all that we can be and never give up, then we truly have nothing to regret. If I had to face the same challenges that Rhio faced, I would try to spend as much of my time as possible in prayer and with my loved ones. Prayer is powerful, and has the power to save. I would put ALL my trust in the lord if this were my battle. If I were given a dire cancer prognosis I would do my best to do what I could to live as long as possible. I would start by trying to avoid being outside for long periods of time because of the sun’s harmful rays, which could be another source to lead to more cancer. Now this doesn’t mean I would not go outside, I just would not lay out in my lawn and soak up the sun in hopes of a nice tan. Also, another step that I would take would be to do as Rhio did and thoroughly research in depth my type of cancer. I would try my hardest and do everything that I could physically do to prolong my life. I would start my research by finding out the different types of radiation and which type is most effective in the helping fight against the “incurable” cancer. I too, would talk to doctors and get their opinions on specific choices of treatment and see which they best recommend. When coming to a conclusion on choosing a treatment, I would make my decision based on the facts, doctors’ opinions and mostly prayer.

Surgery, Chemotherapy and Radiation are probably the most common forms in helping cure cancer. If they did have little to offer in helping me recover I believe I would still choose one of the three forms of treatment because having at least some cure is better than not having one at all. The first source I would choose to turn to besides chemotherapy, surgery or radiation would definitely be God. I know that he would choose the best path for me to take and be it would be way more effective than any “treatment” could be. If I had to make an informed decision on my choice of treatment I would use past patients who have been through the treatments and see how it helped or affected them. I would also use resources like the internet and medical books to research more information on treating my particular form of cancer, and then based on my gathered information I would make an informed decision as to what my therapy would be.

Rhio can be seen as a hero and also as an inspiration to many. He faced each day as it came and never gave up. Rhio fought for his life in such a way that he was able to prolong his life by more than six years. By researching his cancer and leaving the information that he found behind, he is able to help people who are now going through the same situation he once faced. If only for a little while longer, Rhio is able to give them hope and courage to get through the battle they are now fighting.


“Cancer Monthly”. The Source for Cancer Treatment Results. James “Rhio” O’Connor Memorial Scholarship Essay Contest Rules. 2/10/2010. www.survivingmesothelioma.com “Mesothelioma: Questions and Answers-National Care Institute”. National Cancer Institute. U.S. National Institutes of Health.

By: Russell, Keela

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