James "Rhio" O'Connor - A Man With a Strong Spirit

        If there is one word that can instill fear quicker than you can blink, it is cancer. Cancer has been taking lives for years, and two of these lives taken were my grandmother and my uncle’s. My grandmother left this world on March 10, 2006. She died from uterine cancer that had spread all over her body. A year later on March 3, 2007 my uncle, her brother, died from stomach cancer. As 2007 passed and March 2008 approached, the unspeakable question was in the air – Who was next? Although I was 17, I let that question flood my mind. What would I do if I was diagnosed? Or what would I do if my mother or father were diagnosed? As I asked these taboo questions, I noticed that the diagnoses itself was not the frightening part. What is so terrifying about cancer is the life expectancy that doctors inform you with. Naturally, if you were told by a doctor that you had a month to live you would be more terrified of  hearing that than hearing you had a seventy-five percent chance of living through treatment. But why does our society let a doctor, a man, tell them the ultimate fate of their life? After all, every human body is different and there is no way to know a hundred percent whether that doctor is right or wrong. Although most people cling to their doctor’s words, there have been people who have let their hope do the fighting for them. One of these people was James "Rhio" O’ Connor.
James "Rhio" O’Connor was one of these lives that cancer had set its deadly eyes upon. He was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer known as mesothelioma. This type of cancer is where the lining of internal organs become cancerous. Although all the odds were against him, he lived longer than doctors ever thought he would; he did this by looking into alternative medicine and by changing his life completely. James "Rhio" O’Connor ate a healthy diet (mostly vegetables), took vitamins and was treated with mind-body medicine. What is so inspiring about James "Rhio" O’Connor is that he was a visionary - an optimist. He did not let his life be confided within the words of a doctor or within the boundaries of science.
If I were ever diagnosed, I would also turn to an alternative treatment, a treatment that many think of as foolish. This treatment is called prayer. Alternative medicine is usually called alternative because it has not been medically proven to work, but it does not mean that it does not work.  This is also the case with prayer. Personally, prayer would be what I would rely upon as guidance. If I saw that traditional chemotherapy, radiation or surgery were not working, I would put my eyes upon God. This is not too different from James "Rhio". Although I have no way of knowing if James "Rhio" prayed, I do know that he had a strong optimistic spirit, and God is the only thing that would fortify my spirit if I were to come face to face with death. Prayer is one of those things that give you hope when you have none. Like Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding”. Trusting in my own human understanding would only lead me to fear in a situation like that.  Sometimes we need a push, something, or someone to lean on.
Many would consider it imprudent to rely on prayer as the only means of healing, and I understand that, and I am not saying that either. After all, there are many treatments out there that with adequate research one can find effective. What I am trying to convey is that on a personal level, that is what I would need in order to feel strong in my spirit in that I am making the right decision with the treatments I chose. I do think that the most important thing to do when being faced with tough situations, like cancer, is to be optimistic. Even though science has saved many lives and continues to do so, it must not kill our hope or our faith. In our modern world a majority of people add stress to already stressful situations. For example, if my nephew was diagnosed with cancer and doctors did not know how advanced the cancer was, there is no need for me to jump to the conclusion that he is going to die. We must turn the tables upon the unknown, and make it a place where the unthinkable, like a miracle can happen.
     A weak spirit means an even weaker body. Therefore keeping hope alive, by all means, is one of the most important “treatments” any person could get. The good thing is that hope is available to all. It does not cost a thousand dollars, but it is worth the world. Hope and optimism might just be all one needs to survive. James "Rhio" O’Connor demonstrated with his life that if you can grasp the true worth of the power of the mind and spirit, anything is possible.


If you would like to know more about mesothelioma and about Rhio O'Connor you can click on this link.

1 comment

  1. Extremely well written, really. Check your email!


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