JJ #canthurtsteel

Who has lasted the longest because I am going to destroy their record

Dear Friends, 

I had my follow up visit last night with the oncologist to hear the pathology report from my biopsy. I was joined by my amazing wife, both parents and an incredibly supportive friend. The oncologist was wonderful and gave it to us straight and compassionately. I have a confirmed Grade 4 Glioblastoma-a primary brain tumor-which means it is the most aggressive type of tumor.

This diagnosis is the worst case scenario. The average survivor of this rare disease is 1-2 years. I immediately asked “Who has lasted the longest because I am going to destroy their record.” I spent last night doing some reflection and speaking with family, and have derived the following conclusions:

Don’t ever give up: Sage words from my father drilled into my head from a young age. If this disease is going to kill me…it is going to have to earn it.

•Have Faith: I believe in the power of Jesus Christ and I believe in the power of miracles. The faith which I have been given is a gift and that is why the Lord must need this cup to be passed to me. I have the inclination and the will to fight harder than anyone can imagine and I will.

#Canthurtsteel: This is a personal statement and will become my movement. I have always strived to stay strong when things were difficult. I believe in strength, leadership and courage. I am going to fight this and I need each of you with me. We stay strong together, we beat odds and be make people believe that physical fitness, healthy positive attitudes and faith will work.

• Leadership: I have been blessed with the opportunity to take on leadership roles for most of my adult life and I hope to continue to lead others. If you know of any opportunities to provide leadership, hope and strength please tell me what you know.

To gain better access to care and to be closer to family, Kris and I will likely be moving back to NY in the coming weeks. We have some details that we have to work through but we will likely be coming back to Sullivan County. It is and ever shall be my home. I will be taking a leave of absence from my current job in the meantime to focus on spending time with loved ones and getting quality care.

Today, through a connection facilitated through our local Parish Priest, I met with the Chief of Neurosurgery at The Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. It was an incredible blessing that he was willing to meet with us on such short notice, especially on a day when he is only supposed to be doing surgeries. He has agreed to operate on the tumor using an awake surgery procedure to limit the damage to the language and memory areas in my left temporal lobe. He seems optimistic that we can resect most of it. The surgery will not be easy and it will likely have impacts that I will need to deal with, but this is the biggest hope I have received since finding out about all of this.

We are going to go to Memorial Sloan Kettering tomorrow for a secondary consult and make our decision, but I can be in surgery as quickly as next week. This was great news because the take-home message we received today was that I need to have aggressive surgery to resect as much of the tumor possible and as quickly as possible in order to give me the best chance at beating the average survival time. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.

Please know this, I have always been a fighter and will remain true to that during this difficult battle. I will not give up on this thing. Words fail me in this moment to express how sincerely grateful I am for all of your support. If anyone can achieve a miracle, we can. I truly believe that God has a plan for each of us and He has one for me. I don’t know the ultimate outcome of this situation, but I know with 100% faith that God is with me.

The outpouring of support from friends and family has been absolutely amazing and I am so hopeful. There have been many offerings of support and I will be reaching out to you all in the coming days and weeks to call in those favors.
Much like when I was in the Marine Corps, I think that this is actually harder on my family than it is on me. Please continue to support them. We are not perfect but we love life, community and people. We love each of you and thank you for your care, prayers, hope and strength.

I am going to fight! I am not going to give up. I am motivated to kick cancer’s ass and I hope that you will join me in this journey, whichever way it takes us.

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