Rescue Mission for Hughes

The Story:

Jon Hughes' battle with cancer began in October of 2016, at the age of 31, after several weeks of feeling unwell and with growing pain in his lower back, Jon went to the doctor to get checked out. His testing immediately revealed the worst news a person can get: cancer. Jon was diagnosed with Stage 3 Testicular Non-Seminoma with mixed germ cell tumors. Jon’s cancer is extremely rare, and extremely aggressive. Within 2 weeks he had surgery to remove the affected testicle. In more common cases of testicular cancer, this procedure coupled with a round of chemotherapy is normally enough to cure the patient. Unfortunately, Jon’s battle was only beginning. Biopsies of the removed tissue revealed that the cancer in the testicle had gone dormant, which would ordinarily be good news. But in Jon’s case, the cancer had spread. During the next few months, Jon went through several rounds of chemotherapy to destroy the cancer, but at the conclusion of every round, his cancer markers would begin to climb again quickly. Further testing showed that Jon had developed a tumor in his stomach cavity that had become wrapped around his kidney and descending aorta. In late March of 2017, surgery was scheduled and the tumor was removed. Again, the good news was mixed with sadness. The surgery resulted in the loss of one of Jon’s kidneys as well as his ability to conceive children naturally. They removed a mixed germ cell tumor from his abdomen the size of two fists put together, and left him with a scar from his navel to his breastbone. After further biopsies on the tumor, it was discovered to be dormant as a result of previous rounds of chemotherapy. The rarity and complexity of Jon’s case has proven to be a tremendous challenge for the doctors at MD Anderson, widely considered to be one of the best cancer treatment facilities in the world. With the tumor removed, Jon’s doctors felt that his best chance for a cure would come from a relatively new procedure known as a Stem Cell Transplant, where they collected Jon’s own stem cells from his body and administer them to him in a concentrated transfusion, coupled with a high dose chemotherapy. This would hopefully wipe the cancer out once and for all. There is a target number of stem cells the doctors must collect to be able to perform the treatment, and Jon’s body had to be in the right condition to enable a successful collection. Unfortunately, they were unable to collect enough stem cells from Jon to perform the treatment. Since the summer of 2017, Jon has been trying to walk the tight-rope of getting his platelets and red blood cell levels high enough to try another collection, and at the same time keeping his cancer markers low enough so that they know it’s not still aggressively expanding in his body. It has been extremely difficult for Jon to meet these conditions to get the treatment that he needs. When they would give him a dose of chemotherapy, it would make his cancer markers drop to a safer level, but it would also trash his platelet and red blood cell counts. When they would give him a few weeks to rest and get his blood levels back up, his cancer markers would rocket back up to scary levels. This "see-saw" of ups and downs and waiting has been Jon’s life for the almost an entire year now. On November 4th of 2017, Jon married the love of his life, Jennifer. It was a beautiful day amid months of darkness and doubt. They have been battling together the entire time, and it was truly a joy to see them proclaim their love in front of god, family and friends. She is his rock, and together they are fighting the fight of a lifetime. I am so thankful not only for Jennifer, but for Jon’s parent’s, family and friends who have all rallied to support him in his fight. In January 2018, the cancer returned once again. Jon and Jennifer, moved to a hotel near Indiana University Health to start another stem cell transplant and Neupogen shots. The long, painful treatments lasted until March when his cancer cell count was finally down to 18 from the extreme numbers we had all previously seen. He was approved to go home and had a check up at MD Anderson Houston in three weeks. Three weeks passed quickly and his cancer cell count was down to 10. It was time to start moving on and getting their life back together. They got a new apartment and threw a big celebratory bash. It was the light at the end of the tunnel and gave hope to us all.  On April 27, 2018, Jon received bad news that the cancer count jumped back up to 600. By May 3, 2018, he received the news that there was a 0% chance of surviving his final and only option, Immunotherapy. With the success rate of 0% and having experienced so much at this point, Jon and Jennifer worked together with friends and family to try a holistic approach. 


Jon and Jennifer are working on the holistic approach in Minnesota at a family home where they could be together, relax as much as possible, enjoy the scenery, avoid temptations of bad food and an unhealthy lifestyle and fight this battle together once again. Unfortunately, while trying this approach, they were traveling on the highway and were in a head on collision. The worst damage was the vehicles, thank God. However, their truck was totaled so they are currently with out a vehicle. Meanwhile, Jon's holistic approach took an ugly turn and his body has been over run with cancer cells. The tumor in his back is now putting pressure on his spinal cord causing paralization. He is unable to move around on his own, go to the bathroom on his own, and can barely speak. He is also hallucinating and is quite unstable. 

The Rescue Mission Plan: 

Jon spoke with a friend before the accident and stated that he was ready to come back home. However, due to paralization, pain, and medical treatments, Jon is unable to fly back home. Since flying is out of the picture, we tried for an ambulance; however, it costs $10,000.00. Tried Angel Flight and they do not offer medical attention, so that plan is also out. All of us on the Jon Strong Team pulled together and have figured out that we can rent a van, drive from Houston, TX to Appleton, MN pick up Jon and Jen, and drive back to Houston, all the while an awesome EMT friend, Adrian, will care for Jon, while another awesome friend, Joe, will drive. This van has to be large enough to lay Jon down comfortably (since he can not sit up on his own) and to fit Adrian, Joe, Jen, possibly Wendy (Jon's mom) and all of their luggage. 


Van: $2,006.00 with $500 deposit
Additional Funds will purchase gas for the 2,454.4 mile (36 hour) round trip (Noe Adrian Vela)
Processing Fees for the website: 2.9% + $0.30 per donation - for this reason we have increased the goal to $5,000.00
If any funds are left over from the trip, this will go straight to Jon and Jen to help pay for medical expenses.

We have the power, love, and enough motivation to get this Rescue Mission completed. We need your help financially! Anything that you contribute to our friends will help us get Jon home to his family and friends. I love Jon and Jen and have come to care greatly for them over the years as they have me. Help us assist our amazing, caring and loving friends out of this chaos. 

- Charles C. Rissel and Faith Britsch, on behalf of the Jon Strong Team

Join our public Facebook to watch the trip!

  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 52 mos
  • Sarah Tanner 
    • $25 
    • 53 mos
  • Vicki Alexander 
    • $50 
    • 53 mos
  • Sherri Short 
    • $50 
    • 53 mos
  • Kevin Roque 
    • $21 
    • 53 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Faith Schultz Britsch 
Kyle, TX
Noe Vela 

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