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  1. #1
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    Dec 2009
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    James "Rhio" O'Connor Scholarship


    I am aware that many art students are actively seeking financial aid so that they can continue to pursue the vocation they love at their universities or art schools. I stumbled upon this scholarship a few days ago, and though it only has a few days left, I thought I would share it here.

    It is an essay based scholarship and you will be writing about how you would seek alternative methods of healing were you diagnosed with cancer. The details are in the attached pdf file, which includes the entry form and other information.

    The grand prize winner for this contest recieves $5000 so it is worth taking a few hours to pull something together.

    (NOTE) IT IS NECESSARY TO POST YOUR ESSAY ON A PUBLICLY VIEWABLE WEBSITE AND THEN EMAIL THE LINK TO THE CONTEST ADDRESS. You will be allowed to post your essay on any website or blog until January 15. After that you will be limited to university websites or blogs ending in .edu

    For those of you who wish to post in the next few days, go ahead and use this thread. I request the moderators to alert us if this would be against the rules of the forum, and I apologize in advance if it is.

    Good luck guys, and I hope that someone from this site wins the cash!

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  3. #2
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    Dec 2009
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    If I Could See My End

    I avoid doctors, as much as possible. As a healthy, active young man, I rarely have any use for them. Every once in a while I lodge splinter under a fingernail, or I pull a muscle, and am required to pay a visit my doctor only to be certain that I don’t complicate these minor injuries. Otherwise it is my preference to keep as far from medical facilities as I can.

    I was not pleased when, at the end of a grueling semester, my mother insisted I go to the doctor to seek some answers about the cause of all the “aches and pains” which I had recently been complaining about. This is how I found myself sitting in a tiny room on crinkly paper, a needle hanging from the crook of my elbow as I watched my own blood fill two clear, plastic vials. Deep burgundy, I was surprised by how fast the blood pumped out of my arm. I asked the nurse questions about her job in order to ward off the sparkling lights creeping into the edges of my vision. The visit was relatively painless and I walked out no worse for the experience.

    Two weeks later was back, same room, same kind of needle in my arm, same questions, different nurse though. My first round of tests indicated unusually high levels of liver enzymes in my blood. I don’t drink, or take prescription medication, both common causes of the condition, so my doctor ordered another round of tests. He didn’t expect to find anything. “Usually,” he said, “this sort of thing is a fluke,” but he wanted to cover all the bases.

    Pressing the cotton wad against my arm to absorb the bead of blood forming on the skin, I allowed my mind to wander for a few moments. People all over the country, the world actually, find themselves sitting in the same position I am now. More often than any of us like to admit, the news will not be good when the blood tests come back. What would I do if it happened to me? What would I do if my doctor didn’t have his normal dry smile when he stepped into the examination room? What if he said those most dreaded words, it’s cancer.

    What would I think? What would I do? As I begin to imagine, “my life flashing before my eyes,” the classic cliché, isn’t at all cliché when it is your life and your eyes. The crystal clear thoughts that are forming in my head do not even begin to resemble the sappy tragic romances that my sister likes to read. I could die? How long do I have? A year, or two? What do I do now? How will I tell my family?

    The doctor is already talking about a plan – tests, procedures; his voice is far away because my mind is cruising through the cosmos taking stock of my little universe from an objectively disembodied viewpoint. I am snapped back to the examination room by a word that in my experience is just a polite way of saying death… chemotherapy.

    "No", I say, "not chemotherapy, we can find other treatments.” My doctor has the tact to tell me that I, “…will need some time to process all of this, that it would be good for me to head home for today.” He writes a referral for a cancer specialist. I take the paper and walk out the door in a daze. Nothing seems real, my mind is preparing to short circuit. I can’t seem to get my keys out of my pocket to unlock my car.

    Chemo; the sound of the word rings in my ears and I flash back to the memories of people I know who have died from cancer, or rather, died from chemo and radiation.

    My aunt, in her late fifties, ovarian cancer; I watched her waste away to nothing. She loved to eat and laugh and make crude jokes that my siblings and I would laugh at incredulously. She was little more than a skeleton the
    last time I saw her.

    My great grandmother, she had an ongoing case of lymphoma toward the latter years of her life. I don’t think that her chemo killed her, she was a tough cookie, but as another well endowed woman who loved to eat, she was more wasted after every treatment. The flesh of her face seemed to hang from the bones, and there was a haunted look in her eyes.

    The little girl at church, she has leukemia. The kid was a porker, and a spoiled brat. She didn’t do well with the chemo, she lost a lot of weight and now she moves like an old person. She is in remission now, but what happens if the cancer comes back? Will she be able to take another round of those treatments from hell?

    It seems to me that these traditional cancer treatments are like fighting fire with fire. Sure, sometimes you get lucky, and you actually stop the fire, but even then, you have to burn healthy stuff in the process. I know I don’t want any of that. I’m not a big guy, six foot one and a hundred and forty pounds; there is not an ounce of excess flesh on me. I’ve seen what those treatments do to people, and it is not for me. As far as I’m concerned I’d rather the cancer kill me. However, I’m not ready to die yet, far too many things to finish. So I don’t go home, I’m not ready to tell my family, especially my mom.

    I heard about a man, James O’Connor while doing scholarship searches online this past month. Here was a man who, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer and given a year to live, defied the odds and lived for six years, far beyond anything the doctors could have accomplished.

    Having been raised in a family that has made use of alternative medicine and preventative health, I know that the story of this man is no hoax; it is possible to find healing apart from traditional medicine. An avid reader, there is only one place to start down my path toward life, the library.

    As I start reading a website that proclaims veganism as the cure for any illness under the sun, I realize that if I want to live, I’m going to have to do some digging. The internet is full of information… and misinformation. If someone can think something up to say, you can be certain you will find it somewhere on the internet.

    Active and healthy, I am rarely sick. Some of this I attribute to a good lifestyle, to the choices I make every day. I, however, also recognize that there are factors outside of my control; genetics, environment. Which of these are factoring into my illness? How can I take charge of my life to make the changes necessary to find true healing? These are the questions that I must answer if I am to hold onto this life that has suddenly become dearer to me than ever before. The Internet’s frustrating rabbit holes will keep me running in circles until it is too late.

    Then I remember a lesson that I have been learning at art school all year. The internet is useful for fact finding, but if I really want to learn about what is happening inside my body, I need to find people to teach me. I type a new set of key words into the search field of my favorite search engine. “Cancer survivors”

    As I contemplate the implications of terminal illness, I realize that the only things that are truly important to me are the people in my life. When I finally close my eyes for the last time, it isn’t going to be my education, my career, my wealth, or even the exciting adventures of my life that will live on. It will be the impact that I have made and the relationships I have formed with the people in my life that will continue to thrive, even when my body dies.

    So, even though, in actuality, I am healthy, what is my plan of action? Make the most of every moment with those around me, at home, at church, at school. While I’m at it, I will seek new friends, and form relationships with people who may be able to help me live a little longer, cancer or no. I am willing to alter my lifestyle to live for the sake of other people, but pumping deadly chemicals into my body attempting to extend my days while turning me into a ghost of myself, is a trade off that I will never accept.

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