We Shape Our Futures

James “Rhio” O’Connor was diagnosed with mesothelioma and was given a year to live. Rhio refused to admit defeat and lived six years longer than his original prognosis had predicted. He accomplished this and triumphed over his disease by consulting countless doctors and thoroughly researching his aliment. Once he fully understood mesothelioma, which is an incurable cancer caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos; he was able to come up with his own treatments. Rhio’s story is so inspiring to me because of his strong will to live. He is a reminder that we as humans are capable of so much and that we shape our futures, our futures don’t shape us.

To be completely honest I’m not sure that I would have the same courage as Rhio if I was to receive the horrifying news that he did. Being a faithful believer in religion, I feel that my first step would be to pray. Almost wanting to accept the news as a part of God’s plan, but then I would remember that no one knows what God’s plan is and he would never give us more than we can handle. I would then speak with my friends and family because by receiving such devastating news I, like anyone else, would need their moral support. My first instinct would be to live my life more fully and eliminate all of my fears by going out and experiencing everything this world has to offer. I have always been afraid of roller coasters but if I knew I did have that long to live I would ride every roller coaster I could. I would also have to go to Japan. I have an unexplainable infatuation with their culture and couldn’t imagine not ever having the chance to experience it firsthand. After indulging in my own personal satisfactions I would focus more on the task at hand which is survival. Knowing that I have done some many things in such a short amount of time, would surely make me want to live as long as possible.

After reading about Rhio and is triumph over the disease I would do my best to follow in his footsteps by researching mesothelioma. I feel the best resources that could be used in my treatment decision would be doctors, medical professors, researchers, libraries, the internet, and of course other patients. I would also locate and speak with specialist or researchers in this field who could provide detailed information that I or my original doctor may not have been aware of. I would then speak with several different doctors to try to fully understand the disease and learn the best ways to stop or slow its process. Documenting information or new findings from researchers and medical professors so that I am well informed about my options and able to decide which area of my study I should focus more closely on. I would then take the information I have received and research it more on my own with the use of the internet and libraries, looking for any new information and comparing the information that I already have. I would also speak with other patients to obtain a better understanding of the side effects of any treatments that have already been attempted. Once I have a complete understanding of mesothelioma I would start to look into the best treatment for my situation.

In the event that chemo, radiation, and surgery had little to offer my situation, I feel that I would look beyond those treatments. After all the research that had been done I’m sure there would be more medical options open to me. I don’t think I could just settle for not doing anything to combat this ailment. If the medical field had nothing to offer I would look into more spiritual and humanistic treatments. Though some may find it silly or a waste of time, I feel that every possible option should be explored before any option is completely ruled out.

In closing Rhio was an inspirational man who wouldn’t take one doctor’s prognosis as the final word in his life. He showed the world that anything is possible when you have the will to see it through. After reading this inspiring story I will make several changes in my life as well so that I can live it fully and healthfully.

By: Walker, Brandon T.

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