“Being told you have six months to live, life changes a little bit.“
Joe Grojean had what he called the “perfect” life. At 45, he was a happily married dad, living on Mercer Island with a job he loved. He was healthy and active, in the prime of his life. Then suddenly on December 18th, 2009 his life changed forever.
“That day the doctor came in and told me I had myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) which can turn into a really bad type of leukemia,” Joe said. “In 15 minutes he laid out my life and said that if I didn’t get treatment, I would be dead within 6-18 months.”
Joe attacked the cancer in the same way he approached life - head-on. He had two bone marrow transplants and several rounds of chemotherapy at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and today he is cancer free. “You know, I didn’t think of it as the big bad C word,” Joe said. “Everyone knows someone who has cancer and has beat cancer. I thought of it like having the common cold.”
Joe believes he’s alive today in large part because of better treatments discovered at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. “It’s a world-class research center right here in our backyard,” Joe said. “We are so lucky to have it here.” The Hutch’s pioneering research in bone marrow and stem cell transplantation has saved hundreds of thousands of lives world-wide.
For Joe, life after MDS means getting used to a new normal. “It’s nice to have life back,” Joe said. “This disease will always be a part of my life now, but I’m biking to work, and I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.”
A big part of Joe’s new life is giving back any way he can. He volunteers often and supports Fred Hutch, SCCA, UW Medicine, and Gift of Life. “It’s not so much about me anymore,” Joe said. “Sure I can relapse, in fact, my chances of getting cancer again are quite high but I don’t think about it anymore. For me, it’s about all the people going through cancer treatment right now.”
“I want to be part of Obliteride and support the Hutch. After all, research… is why I’m alive today.”
Obliteride is a community that cares fiercely about ending cancer. We connect over the impact cancer is having on our lives and our intense commitment to find better treatments and ultimately eliminate it. We believe that together we can make a difference. Together we can end cancer. Join the movement to obliterate cancer. It’s fun, focused and full of energy! 100% of every dollar raised goes directly to lifesaving cancer research at Fred Hutch.
Obliteride 2014 is Aug. 8-10.
Learn more at www.obliteride.org.