Riverside, CA—James Rhio O’Connor was diagnosed with the rare but deadly cancer mesothelioma in 2001, at which point he was told by his doctors that he had less than a year to live. After embarking on a holistic approach to maintaining his health, however, O’Connor managed to prove those doctors wrong by surviving for an astonishing seven years before finally succumbing to the disease in July 2009.
Following detection of a tumor from the mesothelioma, doctors discussed treatment options with O’Connor. The tumor was considered inoperable, however, since it was in a location doctors couldn’t reach. Chemotherapy and radiation, O’Connor decided, would have deleterious effects on his quality of life, and would not prolong it significantly.
O’Connor was advised by his oncologist that he take his wife on a cruise, then enter into hospice care upon his return. He rejected that advice, however, and with the help of various nutrition experts and other clinicians, developed his own approach to treating his mesothelioma and improving his quality of life. O’Connor began a strict regimen of supplements, taking over 100 supplements costing $1,000 per month. He also ate a nutritious diet consisting of organic foods, fresh fish and vegetables, and devoid of sugar, hydrogenated oils or fried foods.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer which is exclusively linked to asbestos exposure. An organically occurring mineral material which was once widely used for building materials and insulation products, asbestos has been recognized as a toxic carcinogen for decades. It was nevertheless used by the military and by the construction and manufacturing industries for many years.
Asbestos is considered relatively safe to humans when it remains stable, but when it becomes “friable” or disturbed, its microscopic, needle-like fibers become released into the air, where they are breathed in and become lodged in the body’s soft tissues. They can then lead to mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural plaques or other diseases. Since the latency period – or the time between the disease’s development and the point at which it becomes symptomatic – is so long, however, many new cases of mesothelioma are just now coming to light.
O’Connor wrote a book, entitled, “They Said Months. I Chose Years! A Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story” which chronicled his diagnosis and the path of his healing. O’Connor passed away on July 11, 2009, at age 69. He is survived by a mother, brother, sister, wife, four children, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.