The Value Of Life

The Value of Life

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what your going to get (Forest Gump)”. Some people get a good assortment of chocolates, and have an easy lifestyle, with no road blocks in their pathway. However, most people have some struggles in their life. They go through debt, heartbreak, depression, drugs, and other unpleasant things. James Rhio O’Conner was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a rare cancer that develops from the protective lining that covers many of the body’s internal organs, and was given a year to live. Not only did he live with an “incurable” disease for over six years, but he also did it on his own terms. He found his own pathway to beat the cancer, by spending countless hours in the library researching, and by talking to many doctors and patients. That is amazing to me, because I would probably not make it pass a year. I am not only shocked by this information, but I am truly inspired by James Rhio O’Conner’s perseverance for his well being.

Any kind of cancer would not be pleasant. But I would say if many different cancers were put in a chocolate box, Mesothelioma would be the nasty fruit filled chocolate ball that nobody likes to eat. The symptoms of Mesothelioma are: chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, abdominal pain, blood clots, coughing up blood, and yellowing of the eyes and skin. These are all individually horrible things to have, but collectively they are a nightmare. Mesothelioma normally kills patients within a year, but there are a few ways to slow it down. Surgery is the least affective way, but it can help by removing the hemi-diaphragm and the pericardium. Radiation and Chemotherapy can extend ones life around five years longer if the patients disease has been localized. But there are some serious side effects that may come along with Radiation and Chemotherapy. Radiation causes people to experience, fatigue, dry red skin, dry mouth or loss of taste, and shortness of breath. Chemotherapy causes people to experience, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, and hair loss. So basically having these treatments, gives you more symptoms then before with the benefit of a longer life in pain.

I don’t know if I could even come close to living as long as James Rhio O’Conner living under his conditions. I am a pretty big guy, about six foot three, two hundred and twenty five pounds. I played both football and basketball in my high school career, so I consider myself top be fairly tough and athletic. But I don’t think that I would be ready to take on any cancer, let alone Mesothelioma. If I were to get this cancer today, I would be devastated, but I am a fighter just like Rhio O’Conner. Therefore I would also try and beat the cancer by talking to family, friends and doctors. I am horribly slow at reading, so I would probably conduct my research by watching videos on the disease. I would rather take a new road than to have the regular chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Recently I read about a treatment called Heated Intraoperative Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy. It is a precedure founded by Paul Sugarbaker at the Washington Cancer Institute. A surgeon takes away as much of the tumor as possible, followed by a chemical heated in the abdomen between forty and forty eight degrees Celsius. The chemical is coated between one and two hours and then drained. Apparently this treatment increases the positive affects of the drugs entering into the tissues, and the heating damages malignant cells more than normal cells. I like to think outside the box and treatments like this appeal to my intellect.

James Rhio O’ Conner got Mesothelioma because of his exposure to asbestos when he was younger. He could not have surgery because it would be impossible to take out a tumor so close to his spine, and chemotherapy would have made is life worse than it already was. His doctor basically told him to give up and to receive hospice care until he died. But James was a fighter, he wouldn’t take death in a year as his only answer. So he researched extensively and talk to numerous amount of family, friends, and doctors. Eventually he came up with a plan for his life, which included a changed diet, mind-body medicine, other practices. His new lifestyle aloud him to live around seven years, which is still two years passed the Chemotherapy combined with Radiation treatment. His story is not so much a happy story, because I am sure that those seven years were very painful. But it is an accomplished story, because James made up his mind that he would live a lot longer than a year, and that is what he did. So I am truly inspired by his story, and will be applying his actions into my everyday life. Whenever something tries to harm me in any way shape or form, I will say, “what would James do?”

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what your going to get.” I don’t know what kind of chocolates James got throughout his life. But I do know that he ate a nasty fruit chocolate that contained Mesothelioma and changed it into a tasty caramel filled chocolate that contained seven years of life. His story was great and it should never be forgotten.

By: Wright, Emmanuel

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