James “Rhio” O’Connor Mesothelioma Scholarship Fund

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$1,000 Every Month!


James "Rhio" O'Connor
James “Rhio” O’Connor

Rhio O’Connor was diagnosed with a deadly cancer (mesothelioma) and given a year to live. Instead of giving up he found his own path to health and outlived his prognosis by more than six years. This path to health included creating his own treatment protocol which consisted of vitamins, minerals, vegetables and fruits components, essential fatty acids, amino acids, enzymes, herbs, a healthy (primarily vegetarian) diet and mind-body medicine. This protocol along with Rhio’s optimistic spirit, belief in something greater than himself, and the ability to make tough choices helped him beat his prognosis and live with a cancer considered “incurable” for many years.

Alternative therapies like the ones used by Rhio are considered highly controversial. Orthodox medicine reminds us that alternative therapies are untested and unproven. There is little regulation controlling their quality, potency or safety and just because it is natural doesn’t mean it is safe. In respect to cancer, they may provide false hope and cost the patient valuable time and money.

Alternative practitioners have a completely different perspective. They believe that alternative therapies are not tested and approved because they are naturally occurring and as such are difficult to patent. A pharmaceutical company will not invest the many millions of dollars in clinical testing to get FDA approval and bring an herb, vitamin or mineral to market because it cannot exercise a monopoly on its production, sale and pricing. Alternative practitioners point to the thousands of published animal and cell studies that demonstrate the efficacy and safety of various alternative approaches in cancer. Finally, alternative practitioners can describe many anecdotal reports of cancer patients gaining a benefit from alternative approaches (like Rhio) and also a long history of alternative cancer practitioners who were subject to government censorship.

Both sides would agree that cancer has become a national disgrace. On January 22, 1971 President Nixon declared a “war on cancer” during his state of the Union Address. Since then the National Cancer Institute has expended an estimated 100 billion dollars in its search for a cure. Over the same period, cancer has become the leading cause of death in this country for Americans under the age of 85.

Writing Prompt

Please address some or all of the following questions:

  • Should cancer patients and doctors be able to use whatever treatments they like in treating cancer? Why?
  • What are some examples of “alternative therapies” and why do cancer patients use them when they are not FDA approved?
  • Should medicinal medicine and folk medicine have any relevancy in cancer?
  • It is estimated that it costs over $400 million to bring a new cancer drug to market. Does that establish roadblocks for the testing and approval of alternative therapies?
  • What changes or improvements should be made in our healthcare system and the way we treat cancer in this country so that cancer is no longer the leading cause of death in Americans under age 85?

Essay Length

The essay must be no fewer than 700 and no more than 1,500 words in length.

Apply to Enter

To receive a scholarship application which will include the rules and deadlines please send an email to: aelliott@cancermonthly.com. Please put the word “Scholarship” in the subject line.