John Mai - Stage 4 Colon Cancer

$97,770 of $75,000 goal

Raised by 1,169 people in 7 months

My name is John Mai, I'm 34 years old, married(Cathy) with a 5 month old daughter(Emma) and I have Stage 4 Colon Cancer.  I'm the youngest one of 8 in my family and both of my parents are nearing 80 with absolutely no family history. 

Our story began a little more than a year ago...

We recently got married last year on June 18, 2017 @ Calamigos Ranch in Malibu and we knew we wanted to start a family right away. A few months after marriage in September, we found out Cathy was pregnant! 

Starting in July and August, I started having symptoms of constipation, where I would only be able to go #2 every 3-4 days. The pain would build up and last 24-36 hours of extreme pain before I was able to have a bowel movement.  Initially, we both thought it was because we recently got married and were eating out so much with all of our family and friends that have been in town. These episodes of constipation would occur every 2-3 weeks and they felt like they were getting worst even with our change to a healthier diet.

Just 2 weeks after we found out we were expecting our first child, I went to see a Gastrointestinal doctor. He put me on a bunch of fiber and it didn't help at all with the constipation. The following week he scheduled me for a colonoscopy where they found a 2 inch tumor in my sigmoid colon.  We were told to cancel our honeymoon plans because treatment would need to start right away.

Within just a few days of being given the diagnosis of colon cancer, I was getting CAT scans and PET scans which would confirm that I was Stage 4. They did tell me, that although I was Stage 4 because the tumor had broken through the wall of my colon, it had not spread to any of my other major organs (they just saw some spotting within my abdominal wall).

By the time November rolled around, I already had a port-a-cath placed and was getting my first rounds of chemotherapy (Avastin + Oxaliplatin + 5-fu). The doctors had me on a treatment plan to come in every 2 weeks for chemotherapy infusion for about 3-4 hours and then I would wear a pump home that would administer additional chemotherapy over 2 days and then I would come back in to be disconnected from the pump. 

During this time, Cathy  and I were between doctors appointments (either for her prenatal check-ups or my chemotherapy treatments). Throughout her pregnancy, Cathy  drove me to every single doctors appointments, every scan, and sat by me during every chemo treatment. During her entire pregnancy, I went through 12 rounds of chemo.

Emma was born 2 weeks after my final treatment.  The doctors had given me a 5 week break from my last/12th round of chemo so I could spend precious time with Emma.

On July 2nd, I went in for my colon resection and to also have the HIPEC procedure done. I was in the hospital for 2 1/2 weeks and was told that surgery went well. They removed a large portion of my colon where the large tumor was, some spots on my small intestine and some spots within my abdominal wall. The surgeons told me that not only did they removed all visible signs of cancer, but the HIPEC should "clean up" any left over cancer that may have been missed. They also removed 50 lymph nodes to be sent to pathology and miraculously was told that NONE of them had any evidence of cancer. We thought we were in the clear!

Since being discharged on July 17th, I have been following up with my surgeon on a bi-weekly basis. He reassured me that around the 3 month mark is when patients generally start feeling like they're back to normal. While each day my surgical pain was getting better and better (I was using less and less pain meds before stopping altogether), I noticed my meals and ability to eat were getting smaller and smaller.

The 3-month mark came and went and I got to a point where I was, again, completely unable to take anything in without it coming right back up and causing immense pain in my stomach/intestines.

Now, here we are today. I have been in the hospital for 2 weeks now. For a week and half, despite numerous scans, x-rays and attempts at an endoscopic procedure, doctors were unable to see any blockage/obstruction that would cause my vomiting. They did see a pocket of fluid and performed a paracentesis to have the fluid analyzed. 


The results just came back a few days ago and we were given the devastating news that they found malignant cancer cells within that fluid. My surgeon said that although they don't see a tumor on any of the scans, the presence of those cells is indicative of the tumor growing somewhere and that it is most likely the cause of my inability to eat. He said surgery is not an option because of 1) the fact that I have quite a bit of scar tissue from my first surgery, 2) he's not sure he would even be able to cut it all out, 3) he's not sure that my body could handle surgery at this point and also 4) that surgery would delay any sort of chemotherapy treatment (if that were an option). 

I was told to follow up with my oncologist to see if he has a plan of attack. My surgeon has said that it will definitely not be the same chemotherapy I was given in the past as it clearly didn't work. He also prepared us for the possibility that there might not be a treatment option as my cancer seemed to be resistant to treatment.

Since my initial diagnosis on October 11th, 2017, I have lost about 50lbs, I have been poked with a needle more times that I can even count, I've spent nearly every week at a doctors appointment, I haven't been able to hold my baby girl since she was first born due to the pain and just my general weakness from the weight loss and inability to eat. I am currently living off a TPN and can't take in anything orally without vomiting.

I started my own business 3 years ago and my wife and I both work from home. Since all of this, the time we've been able to work has slowly declined to now stopping altogether. Cathy spends the days here with me at the hospital and then rushes home to be with Emma at night. All of our savings has gone towards medical treatments and we've had to start putting things on credit cards. We are currently in the negative and have no idea what other medical expenses may lie ahead.

Our Goal with this Go Fund Me campaign is to help pay for our current medical debt, upcoming medical bills with the new year and provide financial support for our family during this difficult time so we can concentrate on spending as much time as we can together without worrying about our medical bills that are piling up.

In addition, we hope each and everyone shares our story to as many people as we can in hopes of a miracle treatment we are not aware of. 

Thank you for taking the time to read our story.

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First, I want to say a big THANK YOU to every single one of you. I still, don’t know how I’d ever be able to repay you all for the love, support, prayers and donations you have sent our way. Emma and I are forever grateful.

With that being said, I know there were many of you who came to John’s funeral services that I never got a chance to see. I wish I could have said my thank you’s to you all in person. I’m hoping that I’ll get another chance to by inviting you all to a celebration we are planning.

I’ve decided to combine Emma’s 1st Birthday celebration along with the celebration of 100 days since John’s passing.

Here some details:

Date: Sunday May 5 2019
Time: 12PM - 5PM

There will be a bounce house, face painter, balloon animal artist and someone doing caricatures.

There will also be LOTS of food and a very special adult only drink (it IS Cinco de Mayo).

We will also be doing a balloon release to send all our love and messages up just a little closer to John.

I hope you will also be able to join us.

For the safety of Emma and all the children present, I won’t be publicly posting the address of where the celebration will take place. I ask that you all reach out to me, either through my cell phone #, e-mail address or various social media accounts to let me know if you are interested in attending. If texting, please be sure to include your name, just in case I don’t have your number saved.
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Holy Cross Cemetery
5835 W. Slauson Ave
Culver City, CA 90230

**Use the main gate/entrance and proceed to section FF indicated on map (top right corner)**
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On Wednesday January 16, 6:38PM, the other half of my heart stopped beating and I lost the love of my life. He was surrounded by his family and his last moments, I told him to dream of me and Emma and to watch over her every single day. I can only be at peace in knowing that he is no longer in any pain and the struggle he fought so hard to endure is finally over. He left a hole in so many hearts and I can't even begin to thank you all for all the love support you have given us during this time.

My heart weighs heavy wondering how I'll ever be able to convey how much John loved Emma and how hard he fought to stay and be able to watch her grow up...all the dreams and hopes he had for her. He tried so hard to be able to write a letter to her for each milestone (birthdays, graduation and her wedding day)...but in the end, the cancer wore down on him and he never was able to. If I could ask anything of those who knew him to help me keep his memory alive for his beautiful baby girl. The hospital gifted me a journal after learning that John was never able to write the letters to Emma. I am hoping to have the journal filled with memories and stories from those who knew and loved John...all the things Emma should know about her daddy, and one day I'll give that journal to her so that she'll always know what an amazing and wonderful person he is. I will have the journal with me at his viewing, prayer service and funeral mass. You can always text or message me, stop by and pick it up anytime to write in it or to put in photos you think will help Emma see how amazing her daddy was.

I'm still having trouble getting the words out, but I know many of you have been asking and wondering about his services. Thank you again all so'll never know how much all the outpouring love really helped lift him in these last few months.

Wednesday 1/23/2019 4PM-7PM
McKay's South Bay Mortuary Marine Chapel
3918 Marine Ave.
Lawndale, CA 90260

Friday 1/25/2019 @7PM
St. Catherine Laboure Church
3846 Redondo Beach Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90504

Mass & Funeral:
Saturday 1/26/2019 @9AM
St. Catherine Laboure Church
3846 Redondo Beach Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90504

Holy Cross Cemetery
11298 Playa St
Culver City, CA 90230
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At this current time we can no longer accept visitors to see John after 4PM today. The neurologist has declared John brain dead and we will have to withdraw all life-sustaining measures at 5PM. We will be bringing the family in at 4PM.

On behalf of the whole family, we thank each and everyone of you for the continued love, support and prayers. Please give our family the time to grieve and process and I will update again when I can.
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Raised by 1,169 people in 7 months
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