Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Celebrating Jonathan

"You know how I've always said that the moment I finally accomplish everything I've set out to do, I'm gonna get run over by a Ferrari on my way to celebrate?"

"Yeah, or something like that."

"Well it happened. I finally bagged my white whale, everything is starting to run really great, and I just saw the doctor."

"What's going on?"

"He told me I've got lung cancer."

Iris and I sat silently in the car outside Jeremy's & Johanna's house both staring at the bluetooth speaker hanging from my visor and then looking at each other.

"You're kidding, right?"

"No. I went in the other day with chest pains and as a matter of course they took an x-ray. They found a spot in my lungs that shouldn't be there."

"So, what's the prognosis? What are they gonna do? What are you gonna do?"

"Don't know yet. Could be that it's not cancer. Could be pretty far along."

"Well we're here for you, man. Anything we can do, let us know."

We talked a bit more and then headed in for rehearsal. I felt as a vacuum had sucked out the contents of my chest cavity, not sure what to say, not sure what to do.

I called Jonathan the next day to check in and talk. I'd ask about the cancer and what he was doing, but I'd determined to provide as much normalcy as possible, to not talk about the cancer any more than he wanted to, to not be extra careful or sweet, to not offer up advice based on something I'd overheard or scanned in the paper, to just be his friend. Later he'd tell me how he much he'd appreciated it, how he'd wished he could have avoided telling most people because they all changed, how the biggest energy drain through the entire experience had been taking care of and propping up his supporters.

A week or so later, Jonathan got the diagnosis, stage three-and-a-half lung cancer, fifteen-percent survival rate. The next morning he called me and said, "I was thinking about this cancer thing an it occurred to me, 'Why should I think about this any differently than I would any other problem? I mean, I figured out seizures and I figured out heart attacks, how hard could cancer be?'"

Jonathan dove into all the literature on cancer reading everything an oncologist would have had to read to get through medical school. He read studies conducted on alternative treatments. He absorbed everything. By the time he met with his oncologist at NYU to discuss treatment options and potential outcomes, Jonathan was prepared. Before the oncologist could start, Jonathan laid it all out saying, "It's either this... which means thus and such, or that... which means that we..."

It's during this interval that Jonathan noticed the strong correlation between sugar and cancer, how, although sugar doesn't cause cancer, it's necessary for the cancer cells to survive. After making his discovery, he called me one morning telling me that he wanted to make his body as inhospitable to cancer as possible and that he was cutting out all sugars (refined or unrefined, processed or organic, simple or complex), and then he did it.

When the doctors told Jonathan that he'd lose all his hair and drop a lot of weight through his six weeks of agressive radiation and chemo, he decided not to. He trained for the treatment protocol like a prize-fighter training for the championship. He worked out. He dropped weight. He ate only foods that were nutritious. We started juicing.

Through six weeks of intensive treatment, Jonathan continued working, never telling most everyone at work that about the treatment nor the cancer. Through six weeks of intensive treatment, no one knew that anything was going on. He didn't lose his hair; he didn't lose any weight. His blood work looked great.

In the middle of his fourth week, he called me and said, "You know what? I just played the best set of tennis I've played in ten years."

Following the radiation and chemo, doctors removed the lobe of his lung that had the cancer. Checking in with him in the ICU, they laughed when he asked whether or not he'd be able to go skiing the next week, not knowing that he was serious. The nurse who came to check his lung capacity after the surgery decided to get a second calibration device when when the first one kept topping out, obviously broken. It wasn't.

The doctors who reviewed the tissue removed from Jonathan's lungs expected to find at least some traces of the cancer, they always do, but they didn't.

Over the last few weeks, Jonathan completed a final protocol of chemo. He doubled-down, juicing twice a day, and if you hadn't known what was going on, you wouldn't have noticed. Iris, however, did notice that Jonathan seemed a bit pensive, hesitant to declare victory or to celebrate, not wanting to jinx anything. He'd know more when he got the test results a few weeks after the final chemo session.

Yesterday, I got a simple text: All my test came back negative!!!!

I thought I'd share it with you.

Happy Tuesday,


  1. HURRAY! Now we can start counting down to the five year mark. YEAHHHH....

    Congrats Johnnie! We will continue juicing with you! XXX

  2. Congratulations, Jonathan! That's an inspiring victory; thanks for sharing, Tef.

  3. Johnathan, Johnathan, he's our man! If he can't do it, nobody can!!!!!
    Well done Johnnie, you're my hero!

  4. I still hope to meet that Jonhnathan guy one day... glad to still have a chance...


Read, smile, think and post a message to let us know how this article inspired you...