Joe Bullock

Embajador

Joe Bullock's strong arm

Más o menos: In summer 2017, a couple of months after Joe’s dad died from a long-term illness, he started to have some abdominal pains and fatigue, which he figured was brought on from the stress of settling his dad’s estate and dealing with his death. Joe started to have a small amount of blood in his stool. He ignored all of this for the following months since he thought it was the grief from his dad’s death and family issues that he was having at the time. In October 2017, Joe went to a scheduled doctor’s appointment for a routine physical. He told his doctor about the symptoms he was having at the time. Because Joe just turned 50, his doctor told him, “It was time to get a colonoscopy.”

Joe programó su colonoscopia para unas semanas más tarde, en noviembre. Dos días antes, su madre murió repentinamente de un ataque al corazón. Una vez más, Joe ignoró sus síntomas y canceló la colonoscopia para ayudar a su hermana a liquidar la herencia y las últimas voluntades de su madre. Joe siguió "aguantando" e ignorando el dolor que sentía desde hacía meses. Creía que la fatiga y el estrés de su cuerpo se debían a toda la confusión emocional y, en las semanas siguientes, se entristeció profundamente por la pérdida de su madre, ya que habían hecho planes para las vacaciones justo antes de que muriera. Joe estaba destrozado. Joe se sentía emocional y físicamente débil. Pero él no lo sabía: Era el cáncer lo que le causaba dolor y malestar.

Finally in spring 2018, at the urging of his wife, Joe rescheduled his colonoscopy, which had not been a high priority.  He had ‘Doctor Googled’  enough that he figured his pain and discomfort might be cancer. He hoped he was wrong. He and his wife drove to the GI clinic for his colonoscopy. As the procedure began, Joe drifted off to sleep because of the twilight drugs they had given him. Joe’s doctor discovered a tumor, but was able to get around it and remove two small polyps. His doctor marked, measured and biopsied his tumor. 

El médico de Joe se mostró comprensivo y esperaba que hubieran detectado el cáncer a tiempo. Joe fue a la habitación donde le esperaba su mujer.

Cuando llegó a la sala de espera, Joe no podía soportar mirar a su mujer a los ojos. Se sentía tremendamente culpable por no haber afrontado su cáncer a principios de ese año, y sabía que acababa de poner su mundo patas arriba. Su mujer le cogió de la mano mientras escuchaban al médico. La mujer de Joe es enfermera y era capaz de comprender el aspecto clínico del diagnóstico de Joe, pero necesitaban ayuda para hacer frente a la confusión emocional que provocaba el cáncer. El cáncer no sólo te pasa factura físicamente, sino que también te destroza mentalmente. Joe y su mujer pensaron que era importante curarse física y emocionalmente durante su proceso oncológico.

Joe’s wife is a nurse at the same hospital as his cancer center. She figured out the plan of action along with his care team at the hospital. The plan was to kill the cancer, and then surgery to remove my tumor from his colon and any infected lymph nodes (there were three). Joe had his colon resected during surgery. After surgery the plan was to do ‘clean up’ chemotherapy of Oxaliplatin infusions every three weeks with Xeloda pastillas entre cada sesión. Al principio le iba bien, hasta que los efectos secundarios emocionales del cáncer le golpearon y se convirtió en un hombre triste y destrozado. Podía soportar los efectos secundarios físicos, pero la soledad y el aislamiento durante el tratamiento le abrumaban. Se convirtió en una persona triste que temía que el cáncer se hubiera extendido. A veces, el estrés era abrumador. 

Joe’s oncologist noticed how sad and stressed Joe looked, and told him to remember, ‘We got you!’ and their plan of action. He suggested Joe and his wife talk with a therapist. Joe thought he was ‘fine,” but for his wife, the pressure of being his caregiver, a full-time nurse, and mom was too much pressure for her, and she could not be Joe’s only sounding board.He agreed to listen to her and seek help.  Joe wasn’t going to let cancer steal my marriage and hurt the ones he loves. 

Después de unas cuantas sesiones con mi terapeuta, Joe asistió a un grupo de apoyo local. Fue útil hablar con otros pacientes que pasaban por lo mismo. Entonces unas cuantas personas le hablaron de algunos grupos online, y Joe empezó a contactar con otros hombres online en busca de apoyo y empezó a sentirse mejor cuando encontró a otros hombres con cáncer en una situación similar a la suya....

Cuando Joe terminó la quimioterapia, esperó un mes antes de hacerse la primera serie de escáneres. Recibió los resultados que todo paciente de cáncer de colon espera oír: "NED (Sin Evidencia de Enfermedad)". Joe dice que esa noticia es como un regalo que no sabes cómo desenvolver. Esa noche salió a celebrarlo con su familia, pero no estaba seguro de lo que haría a continuación. Se preguntaba cómo podía sentirse bien cuando tantas personas se encontraban en una circunstancia tan diferente a la suya.

His therapist encouraged him to continue to attend the support group. She believed that his status of NED’ would bring a lot of hope to other members of the group. She also told me that him that he might find he needed support from the group as a survivor. She was right!

Joe se encontró afligido por su viaje del cáncer. La ansiedad de la recurrencia empezaba a instalarse en su mente. Superarla fue otra batalla en su viaje contra el cáncer. Pasaron meses antes de que se diera cuenta de que la mejor forma de combatir este tipo de ansiedad era ayudar a los demás en la comunidad oncológica. 

A fellow cancer patient and member of Colontown, Charles Griffin Jr., encouraged Joe early on in his stage IIIb colon cancer diagnosis to find ways to share his cancer story with the community. Charles told Joe that sharing his story was a way for Joe to give back to the community. Men typically don’t want to talk about their cancer story or are ashamed they have cancer. Charlesbecame a huge part of Joe’s cancer story. After Charles died in summer 2019, Joe was reminded of the words Charles told him and others in a speech Charleshad given to a group of cancer survivors. In his speech, ‘We Are All Glow Sticks,’ Charles told everyone that being a cancer patient is like being a glow stick, ‘You have to be broken to shine.’ Joe had been broken, and now he needed to shine. Joe will never forget those words and set out on a mission to discover how do that as a survivor. He looked for ways to encourage other cancer patients at his local cancer center. He participated in a couple of local fundraisers and started to share his cancer story in various colon cancer groups. 

At the end of 2019, Joe met a fellow cancer patient and Colontown member Trevor Maxwell. Trevor is living with metastatic stage IV colon cancer. Trevor had been building a framework for a webpage and writing a book about the physical and mental struggles that surround men going through cancer. He calls it, “Man Up To Cancer.” Trevor wants to change the narrative to what ”manning up’ means to cancer” means. This means having an open heart and a warrior spirit as they battled cancer. Trevor asked Joe to help  build a Facebook support group “The Howling Place,” as a component of the webpage. The idea is that a wolfpack supports each other. Previously, Joe sent friend requests on Facebook to offer friendship and support to men who had a cancer diagnosis of any type.Trevor asked Joe to be the lead administrator of the Facebook group.  January 1, 2020, Joe invited over 200 men to join the group and most of them joined within the following days. We currently have almost 1,500 men in “The Wolfpack” as the men of “The Howling Place” like to be known. Joe continues to fight the anxiety that comes from the worry of recurrence, but now he has “Wolfpack” to run with.  Joe has decided that if, “Cancer is done with me, I am not done with cancer.” Joe’s journey as a cancer advocate began with the Wolfpack, and now extends to hosting duties with Climb for a Cure, North Carolina so that he can help raise awareness for colorectal cancer, fundraise for cutting-edge research on a Path to a Cure, and provide support to the colorectal cancer community. . 

Por qué Joe escala: "Para ayudar a financiar la investigación del cáncer colorrectal. Quería organizar una Climb for a Cure propia como objetivo de mi supervivencia y honrar a otros que me inspiraron."

Lo que mantiene motivado a Joe: "Encontrar una cura. He perdido demasiados amigos por esta enfermedad".

El consejo de Joe a los escaladores: "¡Empieza a entrenar ya!"