Todd, Kevin – Surviving Mesothelioma

Todd, Kevin

James Rhio O’Connor was another elderly person diagnosed with asbestos cancer. This cancer, also known as mesothelioma, is a cancer that is in the lining of the lungs. It usually occurs to people who have been exposed to asbestos during their lives. The only difference between James Rhio O’Connor and a majority of patients given the same diagnosis is that he chose a different path of treatment. Surgery and chemo didn’t offer Mr. O’Connor a lot of help. That was when he decided to look to history and use food as medicine just as Hippocrates once did. He also practiced mind body medicine, supplements, and consulting with nutritionists along with other clinicians about his health.

His pure optimism and motivation allowed him to create his own treatment plan that proved to be effective. His doctor said he had less then a year to live, but his creative treatment plan allowed him to live for 7 more years. His extraordinary amount of research and strict self discipline could inspire anybody. He proved to the medical world that there are other ways of surviving. He proved that if one has enough self determination, anything is possible. James Rhio O’Connor knew that doctors don’t give death sentences, they just give estimation, and this estimation can be changed with a little bit of strong will. This motivation Mr. O’Connor possessed can be applied to any tough situation, not just cancer. One of my current problems right now is trying to pay for college. Normally, kids go to their parents for money. However, financial and emotional troubles have been plaguing my family for over a year now. Instead of giving up college, I looked towards scholarships. This is an option that most students overlook due to pure laziness. Yet, I was determined to get my education and future secured so I hit the books and dedicated a huge amount of time to scholarships. Mr. O’Connor’s story only motivates me more in my struggles and adds hope to myself as well as my family.

Rhio’s story has certainly put a different perspective on my own thoughts. Before reading his story, if I were told that I had cancer with less then a year to live, I would most likely set up my will and wait for death to come. I would have never thought to question and not listen to my doctor. Rhio’s story showed me to get a second opinion, maybe even third or fourth. Rhio may not have even gone to nutritionists if he didn’t have the courage to try and fight his deadly cancer. To me, courage seems like the backbone of survival in this case.

So if faced with Mr. O’Connor’s problem, I would muster up as much courage as I could get, and prepare to fight for my life. My first step would be to seek traditional treatment such as surgery or chemotherapy. Even Mr. O’Connor stated “Heck, when chemo is a cure I will be the first to sign-up” (O’Connor, They Said Months, I Chose Years). However, if chemo wasn’t an option for me, then I would begin to research alternative methods. Days in the library would become common for me, along with many scheduled appointments with nutritionists and other clinicians. These people would help to get me started on a rigorous diet and supplement plan. Conversations with other patients and their stories would definitely aid me in my fight. Just looking at some of the excerpts from Mr. O’Connor’s book has loaded me with ideas. One of the most important treatments that he explored and practiced would be mind-body medicine. If one doesn’t have enough money to pay for supplements (O’Connor’s supplement bill was $1,000 a month) this treatment would be a huge help. Mind body medicine is the practice of having a healthy mind, which would then lead to a healthy body. Some believe it is nonsense, but the placebo effect shows proof that the mind can do a lot more then what is taught in school.

Clinicians, libraries, and other patients are all important resources that can be used. Families are another large resource that can be readily available to most patients. In the case of Mr. O’Connor, he looked in the past and discovered many treatments (food from Hippocrates, and mind body medicine from ancient eastern medical practices). Looking at one’s family roots can also be a ray of light shining in the right direction. My own personal family has strong Buddhist ties. Buddhist practices place a great deal of importance on the mind. Meditation and brain exercises have been trusted to heal people for many years. One must remember that there isn’t a sure fire way to solve your problem. I would keep an open mind to any treatment that came my way. If, after researched, it seemed like a good treatment option then I would try it.

Trying to fight off a terminal illness seems like the obvious thing to do. However, way too many people believe western medicine is the only way of survival. So when that medicine fails, they give up hope. James Rhio O’Connor should be the poster boy for hope. He took his life into his own hands and proved what hard work can do.

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