As I dropped him off at his Oncology appointment, I looked at my brother and I said, “Justin, this sucks so much.” With pain and exhaustion in his eyes, he replied, “And... this is just the beginning.” Shortly after that conversation, it was confirmed that my brother, Justin Bartlett, has Stage 4 Colorectal Cancer. We had our suspicions based on his symptoms, and the cryptic scan results that had been sent home with him from his latest Emergency Room stay. Since then he's already had three surgeries, and is due to start chemotherapy soon.
Justin is one of my best friends. He’s funny, intelligent, generous, and extremely talented. He has his own business working as a graphic designer & gallery artist -- most famously in the heavy metal music genre. If you’re a metal fan, you’ve seen his album cover work, merchandise, and intricate designs. He’s got a LONG road ahead of him, and needs help with medical and living expenses because he's too exhausted and in pain to work.
From Justin’s Parents:
As we sit here thinking about what to write, the old adage, "Man plans and God laughs" keeps looping through our minds.
From a very early age we were sure our bright, inquisitive, creative, articulate little ginger was going to be a field biologist, environmentalist, or scientist. He had a wicked eye for small details. He had a desire to take things apart to figure out how they worked and to come up with even better ways to do things. He had a keen mind for science and nature... and an uncanny ability to artistically document what he observed around him. Skip ahead to the present and there was nowhere in our plans that Justin would venture into the dark world of heavy metal and emerge as the black ink wizard/illustrator... world-renowned for his exquisitely DETAILED drawings of mayhem and carnage! NOT the plan we had for him but so be it. We came to truly appreciate his gnarly designs and are proud of the recognition it's brought him.
And now, to learn that our strong, healthy, physically active son has metastatic Stage 4 Colorectal Cancer feels like a horse kicked us in the gut. My husband and I are deeply stunned (especially since almost 2 years ago my husband Jack received his own diagnosis of a rare blood/bone marrow cancer!) We know that Justin has a long, painful journey ahead and we will do all that we can to help him. We know from our own experience navigating this cancer road, there will be many more trips to the doctor's office, months of exhausting treatments, more hospital and ER stays where unfortunately we can't even go with him because of all this Covid Crap! Definitely NOT THE LIFE we had envisioned for him.
We are grateful for the support, love and care our family members and close friends have shown so far. And we feel fortunate Justin will be in the hands of the very skilled healthcare professionals of the Moore's Cancer Center at UCSD La Jolla. We are relieved he has good healthcare coverage but we know it will NOT cover all of his medications and multiple trips to the hospital and doctors' offices for treatment. And we witness daily the unrelenting pain our son endures from the insidious disease which has ravaged his once strong body and makes it nearly impossible to financially support himself through his graphic designs and illustrations...at least for many months to come. NOT AT ALL THE PLAN WE HAD FOR HIM!
From Justin’s Girlfriend:
Justin is one of the strongest people I know. I can't even describe what it's like to watch the person you love be in incredible pain, and to be helpless in making them feel better.
Even though this is an advanced stage of cancer, the doctor is very optimistic as there are a lot of treatments available to try, and there are new treatments being discovered every year. As Justin is young and otherwise healthy, we are very hopeful about the future. In the coming months, the most important thing is that Justin is solely focused on his treatments and getting healthy which is why we're asking for your help as he is self-employed.
Justin has been bravely facing the challenges ahead of him. In the prime of his life, the plans we had for starting a family and the dreams for our future together are temporarily on hold. This unexpected detour is now a part of our journey together. As we travel down this new path, we are very thankful for the love and support people have shown.
From Justin’s Bro-in-Law/Friend:
Justin is my favorite person to go explore the back country of San Diego County with. The most fun part of spending time outdoors with Justin is his vast knowledge of the creatures we encounter. He showed me a blue belly lizard doing pushups, and explained that it was a mating ritual. Every time I see one of those lizards doing pushups and giving me “side eye” I think of Justin. During a 7-mile hike at Blue Sky Preserve in December, Justin complained a little bit about his back hurting, but he still kicked my ass going up to Lake Ramona.. little did we know how sick he was at the time.
He is now in a great deal of pain and has to be rushed to the Emergency Room every few days. In spite of how well he takes care of himself, cancer still took over his life and body in a matter of months. Justin has a love for life and plans for his future. If anyone can overcome Stage 4 cancer, it’s going to be Justin. During treatments, the last thing Justin should worry about is his finances. He can’t work, he can’t make art — all he can do is fight for his life.