Winder, Andrea

Mesothelium is a membrane that protects most of the internal organs of the body. The main purpose of the mesotheium is that it produces a lubricating fluid that is released between the two layers of cells, which the mesothelium is composed of. This non-adhesive lubricant allows movement of organs to glide easily against adjacent structures, such as the beating of a heart and the contraction/expansion of the lungs. When cells of the mesothelium become abnormal and divide without control or order, a form of cancer called mesothelioma is formed. Mesthelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos.

In October 2001 James “Rhio” O’Conner, at the age of 61 was diagnosed with mesothelioma, due to exposure to asbestos when he was younger. He was given a prognosis of less than a year to live. Due to the position of the tumor, which was near his spine, surgery was considered impossible. Chemotherapy, another form of treatment for cancer, would only decrease his quality of life and definitely not improve his length of life. Despite his inoperable cancer, Rhio refused to give up, and decided to fight his cancer head on. Working with professional clinicians, Rhio changed his diet, took over one hundred supplements a day, and practiced mind-body medicine. For seven and a half years Rhio was able to fight his cancer through pure dedication, knowledge, his relentless spirit, his religious beliefs, and the ability to make arduous decisions. Unfortunately, Rhio O’Connor passed away on July 11th, 2009.

Mr. O’Connor’s story is one of those that can inspire people in so many ways. He did not let his cancer define his life. He proved doctors that spent eight to ten years in college and a vast amount of years in their fields wrong; by surpassing the “date of expiration” they had already tagged to his name. Being able to live seven and a half years with the cancer that had plans on cutting Mr. O’Connor’s life short, is nothing but moving and up lifting. He was dedicated to fighting his cancer. It seems as though Mr. O’Connor had unrelenting spirit and limitless love for living and for his loved ones in order to want to fight this cancer head on. I wish more people would be as determined as Rhio when being faced with given a time limit on life. Yes, spending time with family and love ones is important and can be special at times but if I can give them an opportunity to be with me another seven and a half years like Rhio, I would leap at the chance.

If I was placed in Mr. O’Connor’s shoes, I believe I would do the same as Mr. O’Connor. Me being the person that I am, I too would not have given up like so many do when doctors notify them that there is nothing left to do and have a limited amount of time left. I would definitely inform friends and family of my condition and explain to them my reasons for not giving up. I believe having strong moral support from friends and family can help a person to succeed more in achieving their endeavors. For research I would definitely start at the library, reading any and everything I could get my hands on about cancer. Try to learn as much I can about the cancer I have and the ways considered in treating it. Finding people that had the same type of cancer would also be a plus. Finding out what steps doctors considered them to take. Talking to these people and getting their insights on the various steps they took in fighting and overcoming cancer. Cancer researchers will also be on my list to talk to. Reason being is because they are the ones that can verify my research and also give advice on treatments that I should consider. I would definitely continue talking to doctors in order to relate their thoughts with those of researchers. I would even take to a level where I would challenge the theories of doctors and researchers, because it takes looking outside the box that helps you to do or accomplish the umimagined. Talking to family and friends can also help, getting their perspective of how I should go about in my research and in the end choosing a treatment. Making critical decisions would depend partly on the thoughts of doctors, researchers, and those that have survived the disease.

Even though surgery, chemo, and radiation may or may not advance my condition, I would definitely question and challenge those conventional treaments. Because I believe that it’s my right and responsibility to question these medical communities that exists in our society. With such advancements in technology, there are many new treatments that can be considered for cancer treatment. Some of them include targeted therapy, immunotherapy, photodynamic therapy, angiogenesis, and even hyperthermia. These other types of treatments are out there to be considered, and many people only believe that radiation, chemo, and surgery are the only way to cure this notorious disease. Considerations of changing my diet would also be an important factor. Before deciding any type of treatment, it would be necessary to know the risks of each of the various treatments.

From Rhio’s story it is clear that with determination, faith, a strong spirit, and knowledge can take you places others may see as impossible. I believe that despite his death Rhio has made a huge footprint in the world of cancer, especially mesotheliomia. Giving those specific cancer patients a path to follow that can prolong their lives and hopefully one day cure the disease. He gives others faith to believe and to fight cancer and all other diseases that plague us a humans. For him to live for seven and a half years after being told that he only had a year is nothing but incredible.

Am sure each of us knows at least one person that has had cancer or has passed because of it. Losing loved ones to cancer is nothing but a reality to all of us. I know it’s a reality to me. After my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and also told there was nothing left, it was settled. No one pushed, or tried to learn more, or became determined not to give up. Its stories like these that need to be talked about more. We always hear about those that have survived cancer. Yes, surviving cancer is also a major accomplishment, but to live for almost eight years with your after your date of expiration, according to doctors, is just as important, because each day was a step closer to a cure.

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