Help Joe fight cancer

My name is Joe Hemphill and I was diagnosed with Stage III pleomorphic sarcoma cancer on Sept. 13th 2018. This cancer is rare and mostly only happens if you happen to be unlucky. My grandma once told me that I have a black cloud hanging over me and I've fought my whole life against adversity.

My background

Born in 1960 on a naval base in Tennessee. My childhood was a troubled one, with my father suffering an undiagnosed and untreated mental illness. He'd experience depressive episodes and my mom, my sister, and I wouldn't see him for days, locking himself into his train room. Physical and emotional abuse were regular occurrences, and I spent time in a grouphome for a while when I was 15.

I served in the Marine Corps from 1978-1982 and was honorably discharged. Despite serving during peacetime, while I was stationed in Okinawa, Typhoon Tip made land and caused a fearsome fire in the camp. As an amtracker, I helped move badly burned and injured marines to the chow hall for triage while the typhoon raged. It's haunted me for my entire life and I still recall my fellow marines who perished.

After being discharged, I worked for my father, who owned a flooring company that focused on new construction. At the time, his company was the largest Armstrong dealer West of the Mississippi. I learned my trade as well as some business management. During the recession of the 80's, my dad's company went bankrupt. I'd become an officer of the company, so I was forced into bankruptcy as well at the age of 27.

Out of a need for work, I traveled the country as a freelance flooring installer, from New Jersey to California and various places in between, sending $1000 a month to my parents to help them hold on to their house.

In 1992, I became a father to a wonderful daughter. She wasn't planned, but she ended up being the best part of my life.

When the wanderlust ended, I returned to Colorado. To better support my kid and to try to stop wrecking my body from the difficult trade of flooring installation, I took a job as an install manager for a regional flooring company. After witnessing a number of unsavory things, I started my own company, First Choice Flooring in April of 1996.

Despite all of the challenges of small business ownership, we're still in business and my daughter now works for me. We've been proudly serving our community with top`quality product and installation for almost 23 years.

Why I made this campaign

Being self-employed means that if I'm not working constantly, the business is in danger. I've worked my whole life for what I have now and being thrown for a loop with an unexpected cancer diagnosis has been particularly detrimental to my business. We're struggling to survive now and we need help. Without my business, I have no income and no way to pay for my treatment.

My insurance doesn't cover enough and I have a high deductible. At the start of the new year, the slowest time of the year for my industry, I will have to figure out how to pay my premiums, which were over $1000 a month for 2018 and my deductible will reset.

Please help me keep my company and myself alive by donating during this time of immense difficulty.

Right now

After undergoing two rounds of an intense chemotherapy regiment, 4 days in a row, 6 hours each day, my tumor had grown to an agonizing size. Instead of starting my third round, I was rushed into emergency surgery to have the tumor removed. The procedure went well and I am recovering well, but my mobility is limited and my endurance is greatly diminished. My daughter has been holding down the fort at the business, but has struggled to keep everything going smoothly while helping me with my treatment. Slowly, I've been able to return to work in a limited capacity, but we're still underwater.

On Nov. 28th 2018, my oncologist instructed me to get a PET scan, where it was discovered that the cancer had progressed to Stage IV, having spread to my lungs. As of right now, the nodules in my lungs are inoperable because of their size. I've started a new regiment of chemo that is less intense, but deeply draining. We won't know if this new chemo is effective at shrinking the nodules for about a month. My daughter and I are scared, but doing everything we can to beat this.

We've sunk further into debt with the business and things look very grim. This is the slow season and due to being out of work for two and a half months, we're really uncertain about holding the company together. My business is my and my daughter's livelihood. Without it, we will be on track for financial ruin and may not be able to afford my treatment going forward.

We need help more than ever. If you can, please donate. Anything helps. If you can't, please share my campaign as you're able. We are immensely grateful to all who donate. You are literally helping save my life and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Cutting off the ponytail

Before I started my first round of chemotherapy, I decided to cut my hair that I've been growing for 26 years. My daughter Juli had the honor of cutting off the ponytail while my step-daughter Jenna recorded it. Here's the video:


A random assortment of pictures at various stages of diagnosis and treatment. Will be updated with more as I have time.

33436440_1544849684701183_r.jpegMy daughter and I before we cut my hair and I started losing my beard
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Joseph Hemphill 
Zuni, CO
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