JAMES "RHIO" O'CONNOR Memorial Scholarship Essay
James “Rhio” O’Connor died from a form of cancer called mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. Mr. O’Connor’s was 61 years old when he was first diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma which was caused by his exposure to asbestos when he was younger. Mr. O’Connor rejected the idea that his doctor suggested that he get his affairs in order because his prognosis was less than a year to live. He was determined to survive his cancer and so he formulated a regimen of over 100 supplements a day, changed his diet, practiced mind-body medicine and relied on his own discipline. Through his determination, Mr. O’Connor survived for 7 ½ more years.
Pleural mesothelioma is a disease that affects the lining of the lungs, or lung pleura. It is a common misconception that mesothelioma is a type of primary lung cancer; it is not. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the serous membranes. These membranes enclose a number of organs throughout the midsection of the body, including the lungs.
If I were faced with the same challenges that Rhio went through, having been told by my physician that I have cancer, I certainly can imagine what my first instincts would be. My first instinct would be going into a trance immediately after hearing the physician's tranquil words and thinking and saying to myself, "did I really hear him say, "You have cancer?"" After snapping out of my trance, my heart would most likely begin to beat faster, perspiration would begin dripping down my entire body and then I would probably begin my interrogating my physician as follows: "are you sure I have cancer; are you positive about this; is there a chance you made a mistake; can you please run the test again; I might want to see another doctor; I can't believe this is happening to me."
My first challenge would be informing my family that I have been diagnosed with cancer and that they should not worry. Not only would I have to deal with these new emotions, but I would also have to cope with the reactions of my family members. I know that this will result in added stress for me, which will increase my fears and anxiety. Additionally, I know that saying "I have cancer" aloud would release my emotions that I have been suppressing and telling my family and friends would somehow make the disease more real and more validating. Hearing the word "cancer" for the first time can be devastating for anyone and thinking the worst automatically would be normal. At this point, I know that it would be my responsibility to educate not only myself, but my family and friends as well on the extent of my disease so that I would be able to have a more effective support from them. Being surrounded by anxiety and fear on my part or my family and friends' would not allow me to cope in a healthful manner.
The next phase of my challenge would be the most difficult part of my cancer experience and that would be learning to live with constant mental turmoil and identifying the stressful factors so that I would not suffer from a "burn out." I am certain that cancer can cause emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion and prolonged stress. I know that I would be indulging in thoughts of cancer every waking minute of every day. I would prepare myself for this mental stage by finding a technique that would help me focus on positive thoughts. The degree of mental stage would be mind of being in control and utterly happy most of the time. These techniques would include having the attendance of an exceptional supportive loving family and friends around me, a very comfortable home environment and sleeping quarters, lots of dark chocolate on-hand, the delivery of fragrant flowers every week, having my delicious favorite meals every day, and an all-around-great-physician that I totally trust immensely and who wants me to live and who cares about me almost as much as I care about myself.
Once all of the above are in place, I am ready for the beginning of my journey and that means I am ready for anything that comes my way. First I would sit down, take my time and begin writing down all of the important questions that I need answered to learn the most about my horrific disease. These questions will be directed first to my physician and then to myself for an immediate assignment of research on the internet. Collectively, I will match up my physician's answers and my research and prepare myself for each step of the way. I will not need my physician nor his office to remind me of my upcoming procedures and therapy; I will not need my physician nor his office to advise what would be the possible side effects of the treatment; I will not need my physician nor his office to advise me what my chances are that the surgery will remove all of my cancer; I will not need my physician nor his office to let me know whether or not I can return to normal activities after chemotherapy; etc. I will be well informed about my entire journey and if there is something that I do not know, I will ask and seek until I am completely satisfied with its answer. I will keep my spirits up high and will accept all negative information and turn it around to a positive note. I will remind myself that life is good and I can battle anything because I will have an exceptional supportive loving family and friends around me, a very comfortable home and sleeping quarters, lots of dark chocolate on-hand, the delivery of fragrant flowers every week, having my delicious favorite meals every day, and an all-around-great-physician that I trust immensely and who wants me to live and who cares about me almost as much as I care about myself.
Last edited by jcicchini; 17-Jan-2010 at 19:23.
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