Ward, Lauren – Surviving Mesothelioma

Ward, Lauren

Rhio O’Connor: “I Chose Years”

There are about 3,400 people who are diagnosed with cancer every day. In these 3,400 people there are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and friends. One of these people was Rhio O’Connor whose life became more than a statistic the day he decided he was going to live years not months. On October 15th 2001 O’Connor was given the news he had Mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelium which covers most of the organs in the abdominal cavity. Mesothelioma happens when a person is exposed to asbestos. Nevertheless, Rhio a man who had a wife and 3 kids decided that he would not let this disease take him yet. Rhio O’Connor was given less than a year to live due to this disease, but he made the rules and had much more living and learning to do.

As a result, Rhio learned how to be self sufficient. He looked forward and not back to know what he was about to face. I was most inspired by the way O’Connor handled himself when he found out he only had months to live. Instead of making a bucket list and dealing with the fact that he was going to die, he became a student of his disease and a helper to those who might face his same diagnosis. In 2008 O’Connor published his book titled, They Said Months, I Chose Years! A Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story. In this book he talks about alternative approaches concerning mesothelioma and steps to focus on when dealing with chemo and radiation. Once diagnosed in 2001 he was able to publish a book seven years later! People can now follow methods by a true hero, and know that they can also beat the limits.

As stated in his text he says everyone is different and everyone reacts in a different way to effects. With that said if I was diagnosed and given a prognosis I would talk to people who had contact with the disease and survivors and ask them what they learned from the disease. I believe the only way you can move forward is learning from the past. One of the suggestions O’Connor makes in his book is to focus on today. This really inspired me because I feel like when bad things happen in my life I want to focus on the “what if’s” and not the future outcome. Instead of wasting my time I would do research just like O’Connor preformed. There is no reason to hear one thing a doctor has to say to believe that he is a 100% right. The beginning of my research would consist of getting a second and third opinion. All doctors are smart, however they are only human and I would want to be positive about the seriousness of my disease so I could research in the best way possible.

In addition, I would talk to my doctor about how successful chemo and radiation would be, most likely if it could help I would do it. I would do it not for myself but for my loved ones, because personally if I am meant to die, then I will die but not because I didn’t do anything about it. However, when Rhio learned about the effects of radiation in relation to his life he thought it wasn’t worth it. I can also see his reasoning, if you have to feel sick to get better then why bother? In his case he could have done the chemo and radiation without living as long as he did without. Consequently, I believe it is all about listening to your body and having faith in yourself.

Also, I would start to examine my life and look at areas that I needed to fix. Therefore, this disease would act as a new beginning not an end. I would look at my health, my relationships and my overall spiritual state. Although most people would think this is an act of someone who thinks they are about to die, I see it as an obligation. Therefore, whenever something hits you in the face and reminds you that your life is not in it full potential, you have the chance to change. Although it would be hard at times to believe that exercising, taking vitamins and eating right would keep me alive, it did work for Rhio. A website I found called “Beat mesothelioma” would be a great resource for my family and me, if there should ever be a case of someone getting this disease. This website reminds me of Rhio O’Connor by the way it is set up and the sources it has to offer. Rhio O’Connor is a great role model to anyone because of the way he approached his prognosis.

The overall reason I was drawn to his story was that he didn’t give up and he took action in his own hands. Since the day he passed on July 11th 2009, O’ Connor has touched the lives of many people by his book, They Said Months, I Chose Years! A Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story. A reader commented about his book by saying, “The author had done considerable research in writing his book. It gives hope to terminally ill patients and a path for healing. A must for anyone diagnosed with terminal cancer.” O’Connor isn’t the only one that has beat his prognosis, a man by the name of Stephen J. Gould was diagnosed with mesothelioma and was told he only had 8 months to live, he also wrote a book. The scientist that he was he learned that he would live much longer than his acclaimed 8 months. In his book The Median isn’t the Message, you see much similarity when comparing his book to O’Connor’s. After gaining much knowledge about this subject content, I do not know how someone could roll over and play dead. Your life is worth living, and it is your obligation to live not only for yourself but your loved ones as well.

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