“Everyone has a story. Cancer tried to end my life story. I decided to write another chapter.”
John was diagnosed with stage 3-colon cancer in 2011. He has now successfully won his fight against cancer and lives a healthy life. He likes fitness-related activities like working out in a gym, running, etc. and encourage other fighters to follow the same path.
“I was diagnosed December 2011. A large mass was found during a colonoscopy on the right side of my colon, stage 3 colon cancer.”
“My family had strong evidence of hereditary colon and stomach cancer. I lost two siblings to these cancers, both were in their early thirties. My mother had colon cancer twice and breast cancer once. Fortunately, she continues to do well! Under the advice of a doctor, it was recommended I have a colonoscopy since I was the oldest sibling of ten siblings.
I had my first colonoscopy in my late thirties and continued this screening every 2-3 years on my own. The doctor’s recommendation was doing another in 8 years after my first procedure. I did not feel comfortable with that length of time since my family did not know what condition we had.
I was in my third year from the last colonoscopy when cancer was found. The cancer was removed the same day and I developed a life-threatening infection. After a couple of months of infection treatment, my gastroenterologist advised me to see an oncologist.
After listening to my family history, my oncologist strongly recommended I have a genetic test done for Lynch syndrome and also recommended I do six months of chemo treatment. I recall asking my oncologist, “What are we going to do if cancer comes back.” He replied, “It’s not a question of “if” but a question of “when”.
Having a genetic high-risk cancer condition, my risks are at a 50% chance of developing another cancer. So it is critical I stay on top of my surveillance program. After completing chemotherapy treatment, I was contacted by a nonprofit organization that advocates for hereditary cancers such as Lynch syndrome. I have been involved with this organization for about seven years as Board Member Tribal Liaison.
Being Native American, my heart goes out to all people of all cultures and races whose families may be affected by this genetic condition including Native Americans. My desire is to help inform people if they have a suspected hereditary cancer condition they should seek genetic counseling or proper screening.”
Motivation to fight cancer
“After seeing my siblings, mother and other families suffer from cancer, I am thankful for the healthy body I have now. Even though I still have a 50% chance of having cancer again, I am determined to help as many people as possible! I am reminded of the days during chemo treatment I could not walk to the restroom.
I remember seeing patients carried in for treatment. It broke my heart. When my chemotherapy treatments were complete, I developed some strength to walk. The walks were short but in time for longer. It was during one of my walks with my wife I just felt like running. I had a Forrest Gump moment, “that day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run.” LOL! Since then I haven’t quit running! I now run half marathons”.
The biggest hindrance
“Doctors and insurance! So frustrating with the obstacles of seeing the right doctors with the proper knowledge and insurance authorizations. I lost two siblings by these two issues. I was very fortunate to have doctors who saw the signs and were knowledgeable by my genetic condition and expedited my medical care. It saved my life!”
Message to other fighters
“I’m here for you… I struggle with what to say even though I’ve been there. I just want to be there for them”.