James R. O’Connor’s bravery in following his own conscience and good judgment earned him seven and a half more years of life than he would have otherwise had he conformed to the advice of others. This is very difficult and admirable thing to do and I can personally attest to this.
Two years ago when I was a senior in high school I had an orchiectomy to remove my left testicle. For a while I had felt a lump there; at first I didn’t want to do anything or tell anybody about it because I felt embarrassed, but then it occurred to me that I might have testicular cancer and I became concerned, so I started doing some research on the web. What I found only scared me more. I found that testicular cancer is the most common cancer in 18-25 year olds, and that the lump is supposed to be a solid mass that does not cause pain when you touch it; all of these applied to me. After more than two months of dawdling, I finally mustered up enough courage to speak to my father about this, who arranged for me to see a doctor, who arranged for me to have a sonogram done. The results from the sonogram further confirmed cancer and I was referred to an Urologist, who immediately gave me a blood test, and even though the marker count was negative, said that I should have surgery done immediately and gave me only one day to decide. I spent a lot of time agonizing about this. Both doctors and my dad told me that it is in my best interest to do it, but my mom said don’t do it get a second opinion; she said that the doctor just want to rush this surgery because he wants to make money. Inside me I agreed more with my mom; I didn’t want to do it. I had thought, based on my research, that they should first do a biopsy, but the doctor said that it is better to remove the testicle and find out that there was no cancer than to do a biopsy, find out that there is cancer, and then removing the testicle. I didn’t really buy this but I thought that I should listen to him since he knew better than me so I agreed. In the afternoon the next day, April 25th– my dad’s birthday—I had the surgery. The last thing I remembered before waking up on some waiting room feeling totally sore in my lower body was the anesthesiologist counting down to one and a strange feeling rushing up to my brain from my chest.
The answer from the pathology report? No cancer! It was simply a cyst that had confused everyone.
One testicle, two weeks of school lost, pain, and money, all of which could have been avoided had I simply listened to my heart and stuck to my guns. Instead of taking a stand for myself I chose to conform to the wishes of others, and the result was that I lost more than I gained.
James R. O’Connor did not do what I did. He had a much more serious form of cancer, a cancer of internal organ linings that affects huge chunks of the body, and the prognosis was much more dire; he was given only one year to live provided that he does as instructed by his physicians. But despite all of these opposition he chose to stand by the inner voice that told him that there is another way, that if he chose to live longer than a year he will be able to, that if he chose to treat himself he will be able to succeed. And succeed he did.