An Arch Beneath God’s Sun

An Arch Beneath God’s Sun

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the very fabric of America. Those stricken with mesothelioma are veterans, miners, construction workers and industrial workers people that have built America brick by brick or veterans men and women that serve this great nation. What causes mesothelioma is asbestos, a fibrous amphibole which is used for making fireproof materials. For example, miners play a major role in providing electricity in all homes today. A coal miner would be responsible for making sure that coal is stripped of materials that would otherwise be unsafe. Once fibrous asbestos material is inhaled, it lines the lungs and becomes hardened over time (Asbestos News, 2010). Rhio was given the same grim statistics that cancer patients with mesothelioma are given, your life expectancy is one year or less (Mesothelioma, 2010).

Facing the Unimaginable with Imagination If Rhio had made the decision to receive his diagnosis and accept the most common forms of treatments no one would blame him. After all, in most cases patients start chemo followed by radiation, whatever is prescribed by their physician(s) and for those whom make this decision, they too are unsung heroes. However, when I read Rhio’s story, I thought about a song by the artist Alicia Keys. The introduction is titled The Element of Freedom and it reads, “The risk it took to remain tightly closed and a bud, is more painful than the risk it takes to bloom, this is the element of freedom.” Rhio O’ Connor chose to bloom the very element of freedom by speaking to countless doctors, spending hours in the library and talking to researchers and patients. Rhio did not stop there he educated himself about various therapies as well as their most common side effects. Rhio faced the unimaginable with imagination by creating his own therapeutic regimen along side the clinicians he carefully selected which gave him an additional six years.

What would I do once faced with a dire cancer prognosis? The first thing I would do is allow myself to go through a period of shock and being dismayed. However, this would be short-lived as I would get a second opinion and find out as much as I can about treatment for my diagnosis. While making changes to my diet, I would also research treatment(s) that may be available abroad. Whatever decision I made, would include a team of physicians that are supportive of my determination to live. Educating myself in regard to medication would be crucial because in some cases chemotherapy may not respond to the type of cancer that has been diagnosed. The abnormal cancer cells may then multiply and multiply very rapidly. I would do my very best to live each day with joy, to pray or meditate and spend as much time as possible with family and friends.

An Arch Beneath God’s Sun The life story of James “Rhio” O’ Connor is an inspiration to all people from every walk of life. The possibility of dying is never welcomed news, yet this is where we find our greatest heroes. Rhio had the spirit of a winner and his death only made him a champion. Instead of sitting down, he stood up and instead of being bound by disease he chose to fly. He did not beseech his soul after earnestly doing the very best he could, he trusted a power greater than himself to welcome him to a new home. Rhio made wise choices through a very challenging time.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to have read his story and to have discovered the hidden treasure of Rhio’s courage. Rhio’s human body may no longer be physically with the human race but his story and his spirit in unwavering and insurmountable as it teaches us all from above. Well done James “Rhio” O’Connor, for you are an arch beneath God’s sun.


Asbestos News. (n.d.). Where Asbestos is Found. Retrieved February 25, 2010.

Cancer Monthly. (n.d.). James “Rhio” O’ Connor Memorial Scholarship Fund. Retrieved November 13, 2009 from

Mesothelioma. (n.d.). Mesothelioma. Retrieved February 25, 2010.

By: Sullivan, LaShayne K.

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