Help JT Say "Piss Off, Cancer!"

Hi from Courtney, JT’s fiancée. :) When we began this page in August, it was with hopes of stemming the financial tide that we knew would arise after JT’s cancer diagnosis. I’m back, with updates to his journey, and to ask for continued help with living expenses for him and his 14-year-old daughter. With surgeries, aggressive chemotherapy sessions and a major surgery still ahead, the page count continues to increase in this unexpected chapter in our lives. We now know that he won’t physically be able to work for the next 3-5 months on top of the already 2 months he’s missed undergoing surgeries and chemotherapy. As a self-employed finish carpenter, this means he isn’t able to bring in an income. After crunching finances and paring down as much as we can, it’s become necessary to increase our GoFundMe request to $10,000. With your help, it will provide a valuable cushion, as I’ve also recently closed down my household and moved in to assume more responsibility for my future family.

For those unfamiliar, JT was diagnosed with highly invasive squamous cell carcinoma bladder cancer in July 2014. We learned that the type of cancer he has is incredibly rare – occurring in only 5% of the bladder cancer cases in the United States, that he is also 20-25 years younger than the majority of their patients, and with no family history or markers they are baffled to be seeing him in their exam room. In gallows humor terms - which we readily employ in our coping quiver - we “always knew JT was unique.” ;)

We were also stunned to learn that since the tumor invaded his bladder wall, there would be no saving it, and that in the doctor’s assessment, his cancer type would not respond to chemo/radiation. Knowing his case was best suited for specialists, our Sutter surgeon referred us to UCSF’s Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center in San Francisco. Our phenomenal oncology and surgical care team at UCSF reevaluated his pathology and determined that his cancer WAS differentiated enough and they placed him on the most aggressive chemotherapy regimen leading up to a radical cystectomy (removal of his bladder and prostate), and construction of a “neobladder” from his intestine. He began chemo on October 6, and as I write this, he goes in for his 3rd chemo session tomorrow. Following chemo, he will then “rest” for 4-6 weeks to regain strength before the surgery which will occur sometime in January 2015. He’ll be hospitalized for one week, and have a 6-week recovery at home while he adjusts to his new bladder/lifestyle. All of these measures are to help support the best outcome – odds-beating life expectancy and a maximum recovery.

While the diagnosis came as a huge shock, and the steps since then have been challenging, the way he’s been powering through this will surprise no one who knows him well. He’s all humor and heart. It’s come in handy as we’ve also learned to expect the unexpected. After the 9/22 surgery at UCSF, JT unfortunately developed a DVT (blood clot) in his left calf. We’ve had a standing date at 8pm every night for me to inject him with Lovenox (blood thinner), which will continue for the next 6 months. For the chemo treatments, he also has an IV line which requires daily care. A marketer moonlighting as an amateur nurse! Grateful to help, but it’s not the kind of “sticking it to JT” either of us had in mind. ;)

Outwardly sharing something that is this incredibly personal – health woes, financial needs – is difficult for us as we both value self-reliance. But in these uncommon times, we know we can’t do this alone. So many people are helping us ease the worry about making ends meet as well as providing meals, school drop off/pick up, prayers and support. The ultimate purpose behind this page remains the same - for JT to focus his full energy on recovery to a new normal, not rushing back to work before he’s able. Financial tides will stem, but what means even more to us is just how much your love, prayers and support is stemming our emotional and spiritual tides as well. We are choosing to lean on faith, science, love – and YOU. Please know that any and all help will be utterly priceless as we march forward.
Appreciatively and wishing blessings to you all,
JT, Courtney & Savannah 

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Courtney Stutts 
Folsom, CA