In October 2001, sixty-one year old James Rhio O’Connor (“Rhio”) was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma caused by his exposure to asbestos when he was younger. His prognosis was less than a year to live. Surgery was not possible because of the position of the tumor near his spine and chemotherapy would decrease his quality of life and not significantly improve his length of life. His oncologist suggested that he get his affairs in order. To soften this message, the doctor also recommended that Rhio take his wife on a cruise and then start hospice care upon his return. Rhio rejected the idea. He was determined to survive this cancer. Working with professional clinicians, he formulated a regimen of over 100 supplements a day, changed his diet, practiced mind-body medicine, and relied on his own discipline to see him through the difficult times ahead. Rhio survived for 7 ½ more years through his determination, knowledge, inexorable spirit, belief in something greater than himself, and the ability to make tough choices -qualities that spell success in any endeavor. Rhio passed away on July 11, 2009. He was 69 years old.
Rhio was often asked how he was able to manage his mesothelioma or “Mr. Meso” as he called it. To answer these questions and help and inspire others, Rhio wrote a book called “They Said Months, I Chose Years: A Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story.” In this book Rhio discusses what he did to live his life with “Mr. Meso” and much of the science behind his decisions. In his book he cites nearly one hundred medical articles that support the concept of using nutrition to help manage a chronic disease like cancer. Rhio’s inspirational life and book reminds us that there may be other ways to manage cancer and extend life beyond chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
Below is the Table of Contents of Rhio’s book. If you would like to read excerpts and learn how to purchase a copy please click here.