Cancer Treatment Results  Survival Rates Cancer Treatments / Therapy Results
James "Rhio" O'Connor Memorial Scholarship Fund
Over $10,000 in cash awards available to college students

James "Rhio" O'Connor

Cash Awards:

$5,000 First Prize
$2,000 Second Prize
$1,000 Third Prize
$500 Fourth Prize
$100 Fifth Prize
$75 Honorable Mention (there are thirty Honorable Mention awards)


Rhio O'Connor was diagnosed with a deadly cancer and given a year to live. Instead of giving up he found his own path to health and outlived his prognosis by more than six years. This path to health included: vitamins, minerals, a healthy (primarily vegetarian) diet, and mind-body medicine. This protocol along with Rhio's ability to engage in research, work with licensed clinicians, foster an optimistic spirit, and make tough choices helped him beat his prognosis and live with a cancer considered "incurable" for many years.

On January 22, 1971 President Nixon declared a "war on cancer" during his state of the Union Address. Since then the National Cancer Institute has expended an estimated 100 billion dollars in its search for a cure. Even with all this investment, many cancer patients are not as fortunate as Rhio. Today, cancer is the leading cause of death in adults under the age of 85 and is the leading cause of death by disease in children. Conventional cancer therapies such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery have proven to be very limited in providing a cure for most patients. It is estimated that it costs over $400 million to bring a new cancer drug to market. Alternative therapies like the ones used by Rhio are considered highly controversial because they are untested and unproven in clinical trials. One reason that they are untested is because it is unattractive for pharmaceutical companies to invest significant funds in a cancer therapy to test it and bring it to market if the therapy cannot be patented. Most alternative therapies are not readily patentable because they occur in nature and were not invented.

Undergraduate and graduate students at colleges and universities in the United States are invited to honor Rhio's spirit of self determination and intellectual curiosity by writing an essay.

Writing Prompt:

Please write an essay about how Rhio’s story inspires you and what you would do if you faced the same challenges that he faced. What steps would you take if you were given a dire cancer prognosis? How would you conduct your research and make an informed decision when choosing a treatment? Would you look beyond chemotherapy, radiation and surgery if they had little to offer? Do you think alternative approaches should be accessible to you? What should be done to improve progress in curing or preventing cancer and giving cancer patients the greatest chance of survival?

Essay Length:

The essay must be no fewer than 700 and no more than 1,500 words in length.

To Submit Your Essay:

To receive a scholarship application which will include the rules and deadlines please send an email to: Please put the word "Scholarship" in the subject line.

Terms are subject to change without notice.