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One Life, One Day at a Time


James “Rhio” O’Connor Memorial Scholarship Essay by Julia Shropshire




            Many people all over the world have received some type of news, whether good or bad.  Of course, we all want the good news; however, this is not the case all of the time. The story of James “Rhio” O’Connor has truly inspired and encouraged me and I would like to discuss what I would do if I were given a year to live, as “Rhio” was, due to an incurable disease. How would I conduct research and make an informed decision when choosing treatment, and what resources would I use to formulate the choice I made.  How I will live my life, one day at a time. 

  Mr. O’Connor was diagnosed with pleural (outer lining of the lung and chest wall) mesothelioma.  He was exposed to asbestos when he was younger. You can read more on this cancer and its treatment and survivors at Mesothelioma is a rare and serious type of cancer.  Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 cases of Mesothelioma are diagnosed each year in the United States, and occurring more frequently in men, according to an asbestos website. 

If I were in an equivalent circumstance as he (Mr. O’Connor), I certainly would do research. I would definitely ask questions.  Talking to different physicians that specialize in this area would be very beneficial. Also, the best experience is “hands on” experience.  I would talk to others that have been through the same circumstances.  On top of these; hard work, dedication and a “determined to live” mindset as “Rhio” had are greatly considered. The old saying goes “you are what you eat”, but I have a new saying, “you are what you speak!” I believe that if you speak life to an inert condition, that condition has to change.  I will always speak positive and will expect others to speak positive to me. 

            In 2002, I had to have a major surgery that would transform my life forever.  I had to sacrifice something that was very important to me. At that time, I didn’t know to do research.  I didn’t know to consult different physicians. I didn’t have adequate guidance. As a result, I made the decision to have the surgery, and afterwards, I felt as if I wasn’t going to make it; but I did.  I lived one day at a time, knowing and believing that a higher power would bring me through. I didn’t give up.  Everyday I found something positive to do.  I began to tell myself, “I am going back to school.” “I will live my life to the fullest.”   

Most people do not realize that everyday we wake up, opportunity greets us.  If we sleep all day, then we miss our opportunity.  If we groan and complain about our illness, it will only make us worse. Whether sick or well, we can encourage someone else.  We can extend our testimony to another person, who, in return, will get strength to go on and also tell someone their testimony. This is what I call the “Life Cycle”. 

Please, do not misunderstand.  We will have valleys. But I determined that when I was in the valley, I was going to hang on to the rope of life and pull myself up.  I believe that miracles can occur in our valleys. Elbert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  We can make a miracle out of every situation, if it is for us or for someone else.

Challenges are coming, no matter what avenues they come through.  Today, in any given circumstance, I choose to live. I will not flee, but I will fight.  We truly can have victory over defeat.  If you speak life, you can have what you say.  Each and every day we have harsh decisions to make, and it does get hard.  We were created to live.  We were created to multiply and to learn more.  We have an inner strength that enables us to go even when the going gets tough. It all boils down to me, as an individual.  What am I going to do?  I don’t know about you, but I choose to live my life, and I will live it one day at a time.

The End

Georgia Military College - Your Community Junior College
Georgia Military College - Your Community Junior College Georgia Military College - Your Community Junior College
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