Sanchez, Erick – Surviving Mesothelioma

Sanchez, Erick

A Second Life, the End is Just the Beginning “A story inspired by the life of a courageous man called Rhio o’Connor”

There are many questions that race through my mind. Will I finish my studies at my current university? How will my life be after I graduate? Will I stand out among my fellow classmates? What would it take to get hired by a top company? For I am eager to live an extraordinary life, I have been drawing my future as an image, a magnificent piece of art which contains traces of a prospective career. However, while the road to the future may be planned as a smooth straight path, the capricious life would take sudden detours which modify the outcome of its final picture. Thus, life itself is an endless challenge in which only those with strong determination and willpower are the only one who are able to succeed. An unique example can be found in James “Rhio” O’Connor’s life, an extraordinary story about how he outlived his terminal cancer prognosis for more than six years serves as a life lesson for other patients, and people in general. James “Rhio” O’Connor teaches us how, in dire circumstances, his determination to keep on living allowed him to live a second life, in which, day by day, he found himself closer to finding a treatment for mesothelioma.

I used to think about my life ahead making plans for the future, and never taking a break to think about the different adversities that life may present to me at any moment. I have always considered myself a healthy young man and hated, as many of people, to go to the hospital, even more, seeing a doctor. However, I was required to get a physical check-up by my college. While I was sitting in the hospital’s waiting room, the atmosphere seemed very different to what I was used to. The mixed sensations of death and sorrow combined with the strong odor of disinfectant washed away my perception of reality, and for an instant, time froze as a minute felt like eternity. However, suddenly, a feminine voice brought me back to reality. For it was my turn to go to the doctors office, the nurse had been calling for me at the waiting room. As I entered to the doctor’s office, I felt a dreadful sensation in which it seemed that I entered a phantasmal realm where my future, which until a couple of hours ago was already planned, began fading away due to the uncertain outcome of the appointment.

A rush of adrenaline flowed through my body as the doctor was about to tell me the outcome of the exams. Fortunately, the physical check-up went fine, and the doctor did not find any abnormalities with my health. As if a load was taken off me, I could picture my future once again, however, I was soon to be proven wrong by an acquaintance of mine. As I was about to leave the hospital , I gazed upon a familiar lady sitting on a chair close to the main entrance. It took me a couple of minutes to remember her since she had changed a lot since the last time I saw her. Even her blue eyes and golden hair, which were full of energy back in high school, had lost their color as their life force had been sucked out of them. Those eyes that once expressed happiness now are filled with distress, and her lively expressions now seem lethargic. As I approached to say “hi” to her, she immediately recognized me. It had been years without seeing each other, and while at high school we were close friends. Due to each both of us going to different colleges, we had lost contact with each other. Out of concern, I could not help to ask her why she looked so spiritless. As she was telling me her sorrowful story, I listened to her without saying a word. Perhaps the feeling of not being able to fully understand what she is going through since I had never had cancer, not being able to help her directly and share some of her grief, or the feeling of being powerless, and having someone who was once close to me being taken away by this unforgiving disease, kept my mouth shut. She told me that she just started her second round of chemotherapy since she was diagnosed with malign cancer about three months ago. Due the cancer’s advanced state, her prognosis was not favorable, and she does not have long to live. Back then, a question rushed to my mind. What would I do if I were diagnosed with terminal cancer?. And while noticing how blessed I was, that question has been in my mind ever since.

While a terminal cancer diagnosis equals a death sentence for most people, in my case would mark the beginning of a second life. I would start by taking better care of my body and mental condition. It is part of human nature to truly appreciate something when it is lost, and at the verge of losing its most precious element, I would come to a better understanding of what it truly means to be alive.

The first step towards my treatment would be gathering my family and communicating to them the circumstances in which my life is draining away by this uninvited guest called cancer. My family will always be my main support for I know I can always rely on them. The second step would be learning as much as I am able to about the type of cancer I have been diagnosed with, and learning in the process about different ways to extend my life expectancy. While I would originally pursue conventional treatments, depending on the efficacy of it, I would also consider exploring alternative treatments. My research would not be limited by asking a doctor about other treatments for I would get varied treatment perspectives from different doctors. I would research at different libraries about my type of cancer, but also turn to on line research since I consider that most updated information can be found through this method. Another method that I would use would be to ask other patients, with a similar cancer as mine, about their experiences. While I understand that each cancer is different in every person, learning about the different methods and procedures taken by these people will enlighten my own research. Finally, I would put together all the gathered information, and along with qualified professionals, submit every element to careful consideration, and create my own customized treatment.

If I were to define cancer, it would be a silent assassin who takes the life of those that we love and care about. While progress is being made in the endless fight against this disease, there is not doubt that this implacable plague is winning the battle. Day by day many people are diagnosed with this terrible disease, and day by day many more die as a consequence of it. It takes exceptional people as Rhio O’Connor to chose to fight it, and in doing so, leave a legacy. Rhio O’Connor has set an example on how to overcome any dire prognosis by taking control of his own life and establish his own therapeutic method. By having the strongest resolve to find new answers for his never-ending investigation, and questioning traditional treatments, he has become an inspiration for those who has been hit by cancer. Rhio O’Connor has given us the amazing gift of life and hope, and also shown us that in the desperate circumstances that we encounter in life, we can find a new beginning and not an end. While most of my questions will remain unanswered for the time being, there is now one questions that I can answer firmly. Thanks to Rhio O’Connor extraordinary legacy, if I were to be asked about what would I do if I were to be diagnosed with cancer, with unwavering conviction I would say – ”I will keep on living for I can follow the steps left by other extraordinary people, perhaps someday, someone will follow my steps. If more people follow this example, maybe someday the word cancer will not be be followed by a death sentence. Hey-that is a very possible dream…”-.

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