Riho O’Connor’s determined and intellectual approach to his battle with terminal cancer is an inspirational story not only about survival, but the power of education. It is important to note, however that Riho’s research isn’t what extended his life, it was his powerful will to live. His will is what drove him to go the extra miles in his self-education. The question that those who face his situation must ask is, “how strong is my will?”
A powerful will is not something that springs out of nowhere when trouble is brewing. It’s something that is built over a lifetime of experience. There are several types of experiences that go a long way towards developing a strong will. Most of these life experiences have one very important thing in common. That common denominator is devotion to other people; particularly loved ones. A soldier with a wife and child waiting at home will fight harder than a soldier who cares for no one but himself. The same principle applies to terminal cancer patients. Those with no family or friends find it much more difficult to persevere through the tough times that inevitably come in a battle with cancer. Another way of building a powerful will is based around your perceptions of your own usefulness or purpose. Someone who views themselves as useless, or a burden will not fight as hard to prolong their life as would someone who feels truly needed by those around him (or her). Any kind of plan to fight cancer must include these two elements if powerful recovery is desired.
My uncle Tom had a similar experience that Riho did. Tom was diagnosed with cancer of the throat in the spring of 2005. In 2006 he had his larynx removed, and had to spend the remainder of his life with an artificial voice box and a hole in his neck. In the spring of 2007 he was given six months to live. Tom passed away in June of 2009. The most amazing thing about my uncle Tom’s life is the love he left behind. He had a large amount of family and friends that served as a real comfort to him in the darkest days of his fight. What I learned from Tom’s life was that it doesn’t matter what you have when you’re alive, but the love you leave when you die. My method for fighting cancer is based both on my uncle Tom’s live, and the life of Riho O’Connor.
If I were diagnosed with terminal cancer I would fight first to develop a powerful will before (but not too long before) I would worry about researching the disease. Connecting and reconnecting with family and friends would be my first move. The worst thing that I could do would be to fall into a pattern of self-pity and alienation. I would reach out to my loved ones and strengthen my relationships. If my family were far away from me, I would go to where they were, and if I couldn’t get to them I would maintain regular and extensive contact. I would also make it a point to seek out old friends, and rekindle old relationships. Essentially I would try to maximize the amount of love in and around me. That love would be a vital resource, and a constant comfort in my upcoming battle.
Part two of my plan would be to begin serving in local charity organizations, and try to spend my spare time helping others. It would be very easy to fall into a pattern of righteous selfishness. In other words it would be natural to assume your own right to service from others than your responsibility to serve others. The purpose of service is to make myself feel useful and needed. If I could expand my world to include those who I could help it would go a long way in increasing my own self worth. I would use this in conjunction with my relationships with my loved ones to give myself the will to fight the cancer with every bit of energy and power that I have.
The final part of my plan would be very similar to what Rhio O’Connor did. I would tirelessly research my disease. I would spend days and days in the library and online learning all I could use in my fight. I would call doctors and seek multiple opinions. I would explore experimental and traditional remedies if I found in my research that they might be beneficial. I would look beyond radiation and chemo, as a last resort; since they both significantly reduce your strength and I would need all my strength to maintain the support structure I have developed for myself. In short, I would educate myself to the point where I felt I could make an exceptionally well informed decision, and I wouldn’t accept mediocrity from neither myself nor my doctors.
If all my research failed, and I found myself deteriorating to a point where I knew that I was about to lose my fight, I would find comfort in the fact that I spent my last days doing something that mattered. I would have spent it with my loved ones. I would have rekindled old friendships, and I would have worked for a higher purpose by serving those less fortunate. And In my opinion those are the things that make a life worthwhile, and that’s what I would want to be doing with my last days, or months, or years.