It takes a very special kind of determination to handle the everyday tribulations of living with cancer. Fortunately there are people like James O’Connor for inspiration. James “Rhio” O’Connor was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a cancer of the upper body, and given one year to live. Despite the unquestionable emotional devastation, Rhio stayed clear minded and decided to take matters into his own hands. Instead of taking the typical approach to fighting cancer, Rhio found it best to do his own research. This way he could determine how his own body felt, diagnose his own symptoms, and treat each one accordingly. It is not common to use the ‘alternative’ approach when battling cancer, but Rhio took great pride in the research he was conducting and made great advances in the use of natural substances to treat his Mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by the inhalation of asbestos. It inhibits the use of the lungs and respiratory systems in the body by attacking the mesothelium, the soft outer cells of organs (cancermonthly). The symptoms are those common of a multitude of other illnesses and can often go undetected as cancer. This can lead to a short prognosis because the cancer is often spread beyond control. In Rhio’s case, he was given a short term and a bleak outlook for survival. Fortunately, this is not always true. In some cancers early detection is the best way to fight and cure the disease. Some require only surgery, some radiation, and others a mix of both. Chemotherapy is considerably the harshest of the ‘typical’ treatments and is the cause of hair loss, weight loss, and nutrition problems. During his battle, Rhio worked with clinicians to render a disease fighting routine of supplements, and made dietary and lifestyle changes. For Rhio, it was not worth the stress of chemotherapy- especially when the chances of it curing him were slim. It was not worth the risk of surgery, either; the tumor had formed too closely to his spine. Radiation was not even an option. It is unfortunate that there is not a less-harsh cancer treatment available. If you are within the last months, weeks even, of your life it is a tough choice to force yourself into a tiring schedule of treatments to hopefully find a cure versus living carefree with acceptance of your fate.
It is said that the only thing we humans share in common is that we are all dying. In a pallid medical room, if I were to be told my time is coming, I would be overwhelmed with emotion. The shock would outweigh the terror in my veins and the disheartening taste in my mouth. I would feel my heart slowing, clutch my chest, and gasp for air, as my knees gave out and I fell to the cold and spotlessly disinfected hospital floor. Or perhaps I would stay calm, almost serene, with an acceptance of my fate and retain enough function to pursue the doctors with questions. This is a situation I hope to never be in I can in no way describe how it might feel to hear the words “You have cancer.”