Unbreakable Spirit

The story of the life and unbreakable spirit of Mr. James Rhio O’Connor is an inspiring one that touches your soul. This gentleman was diagnosed with rare form of cancer, mesothelioma. This cancer forms in the cells that line the internal organs of the body and its origins are linked to exposure to asbestos. Sufferers of this type of cancer often have great trouble breathing and also experience swelling of the abdomen due to fluid buildup. It is possible for this disease to lie dormant for years before its victim begins to show any signs of sickness and most with the misfortune of being diagnosed with it only live 1-5 years. Mesothelioma is generally treated with radiation and chemotherapy. Sometimes removing the cancer is also an option. In the case of Mr. O’Connor, none of these treatment options were possible. He was basically told by his doctor to throw in the towel and he was given less than a year to live.

This is the most critical moment in the lives of the sick, the diagnosis. Defining moments such as these really bring out what a person is made of. I can only imagine the thoughts that plagued the mind of Mr. O’Connor or the roller coaster of emotions he felt as he received the news. He must have felt somewhat like Atlas, the character of Greek mythology who bore the weight of the vast skies on his shoulders. After what I am sure was much inner turmoil, Mr. O’Connor decided that he was going to survive. Despite incredible odds and the prediction of a posthaste death, this man of valor determined in his mind that he was going to make it. Instead of following his doctor’s advice and defeatedly checking in to a hospice to die, Mr. O’Connor began to do his research and investigate alternative methods of treatment. He then changed his diet and began to take vitamin and herb supplements daily. He also practiced mind-body medicine, which uses the techniques of emotions and thoughts to influence physical health. By doing so, Mr. O’Connor prolonged his life and lived an additional 7 and a half more years. He died at the age of 69.

A doctor is a trained professional whom has attended college and medical school to learn to determine ones ailments and how to treat them. These individuals study for years upon years in order to learn to make an accurate diagnosis. Surely they know what they are talking about, right? As a Christian woman I do not believe the doctors to be the final authority in who lives or who dies. They can only merely give you an educated guess. Mr. O’Connor’s case sheds light on alternative, holistic forms of treatment and further shows validity to the effectiveness of less conventional methods of healing. The mind-body approach to treatment also ties in together with what Solomon, the wise author of the book of the Proverbs stated many years ago, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” If you think defeated thoughts and make defeated actions then you have already lost the battle. Positive thoughts, faith and belief in miracles will carry a person to great heights and make the impossible possible.

If I were in Mr. O’Connor’s position and had received an unfavorable report from the doctor and there was very little that could be done to treat my illness, I can’t say that I would show the same bravery and upbeat attitude as Mr. O’Connor. That is what I most admire about him, his ability to remain positive and happy-go-lucky even as all around him crumbled. Not only did he battle cancer with unorthodox methods that many professional scoff at, he did it with a smile. If it were me, I would attempt to gather my thoughts and begin the tedious road to recovery via alternative forms of treatment. I would utilize one of the world’s greatest resources, the internet and find information as well as reach out to individuals who have shared similar experiences. I would then locate a specialist who could assist me in my battle against the disease. I would equip myself with as much knowledge as I possibly could and pray to God. I would also do my part by making sure that I am eating healthy and following the guidelines of the program that my specialist has assigned. I could only hope that I would accomplish it with the same smile and meekness of spirit as James Rhio O’Connor.

Are you going to live or die? Some believe that they do not have a say in the matter, others rely heavily on doctors and modern medicine. Some believe in a higher power and a mind over body like thought process. Whatever the belief system, a bleak diagnosis does not have to be a death sentence. You have to determine within if you are going to lay down, give up the fight and die or live. You must develop an unyielding will to go on despite what the circumstances look like. This applies to everyday life weather you are sick or healthy. Perhaps your cancer comes in the form of an employment lay-off, lack of finances in a tumultuous economy or suffering from a great loss. Your cancer could be any situation that is dire and seems hopeless. In the legacy of Mr. James O’Connor, we must all keep smiling and know inside that everything will work in our favor in the end.

By: Teal, Kiana

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