Diagnosis & Treatment

Colorectal Cancer
Medical Center
Mission Hospital, Messino Cancer Center (Asheville NC), and Duke Cancer Center (Durham, NC)
Dr. Mina - Haywood Surgical, NC and Dr. Ahearne - Mission Hospital, NC
Dr. Michael Messino - Messino Cancer Center, NC
Clinical Trials
Yes, I did a clinical trial for Keytruda (Pembrolizumab) an immunotherapy for metastasized colon cancer through Duke Cancer Cancer.
Medical Treatment
Details of Treatment
I've been on chemo and immunotherapy since November 2015. 129 rounds and counting.
Medication During Treatment
5-Fluorouracil (5-FU), Irinotecan (Camptosar), Oxaliplatin (Eloxatin), Avastin (Bevacizumab), Panitumumab, Keytruda (Pembrolizumab)
Alternative Therapies During Treatment
Cancer made me realize that I needed to not take any day for granted to appreciate the little things in life - not just look forward to big moments.
Vitamin D, B12
WHAt helped me during treatment
Favorite Quote
"Never tell me the odds," and: "what's coming will come and we will meet it when it does."
Advice for Others
Cancer is hard. Is going to feel lonely it is going to be rough but do not isolate - that is damaging for your physical and mental health. Reach out and ask for help when needed. Even if you feel like you're alone going through this, you're not.

My Story

I was getting back into shape after I took years off of working out and being healthy. I was a former college football player and after I got hurt, I let my body go, enjoyed college, and drank way too much. The start of 2015, I was getting in shape started a new position at my job. I was finally getting my life in order. I ignored symptoms for months. I put it off as a pulled muscle and ulcer but I dealt with abdominal pain, massive weight loss, bathroom issues, and fatigue. Finally my mom made me go to the doctor.

When I got my diagnosis, I was numb. I did not know how to process this. I was able to tell my friends and family, but it didn't sink in for a couple days - and then I felt alone and empty and scared to death. I didn't have to advocate for myself, I was in such bad shape everyone knew something was wrong. My treatment was rough and I tried to take it all on myself, but movies and TV shows were my escape for those first 12 rounds, and trying to hang out with friends when I could.

When the cancer came back and I found that I was going to be on treatment for the rest of my life, it sent me into some very, very dark depression and struggles. It's been a battle ever since to keep my mental health in a positive light. I use reading and just things I love is a ways to escape for a little bit of time each day and that really helps, along with going to a professional therapist and being able to talk through my emotional state. Also, becoming an advocate has gave me a purpose and a kind of direction - I feel like I'm doing something good, and that helps me get through my treatments. My cancer journey is ongoing. It is stable right now, but I'm still on treatments. I feel I'm in a good spot but I know I still have a long way ahead of me. Hopefully I'll have a very long life, but I just want to keep being an advocate and showing the true and raw and real side of life with cancer.

Learn more about JJ and his work with Fight Colorectal Cancer here:

Go to fightcolorectalcancer.org

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