Dear Jack

November 2nd, 2016

Carlo: How I Met DJF


Dear Jack,

A little background on myself. I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma 11/2014. CR in 3/2015. Relapsed 9/2015. I was living in Virginia Beach, VA at the time and moved to Houston, TX after I relapsed. So as a result, I can be treated at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX.

I started treatment 11/2015 and had a stem cell transplant 2/4/2016. After my transplant, I had 20 rounds of radiation which ended 6/2016. During that time I was staying in Dan’s House of Hope, which offers free housing for AYA cancer patients receiving treatment in Texas Medical Center.

After the last day of treatment, Roger Kenneavy (co-founder of Dan’s House of Hope) received a call from Wendy, the social worker from MD Anderson who facilitates the AYA cancer support group, asking if they have any guests that are interested in seeing a concert in The Woodlands. As I was the only guest staying at the time, I obviously got the invite! I was only expecting to see Weezer and didn’t know that the tickets came from Andrew McMahon himself! When I got there and got to meet the wonderful nurses from MD Anderson and they introduced me to Katie and Andrew McMahon. It was just the perfect way to celebrate me finishing treatment. Rocking it out with some oncology nurses and a rock star cancer survivor. Nothing can beat that!

After the concert, I learned about DJF. Andrew’s passion for helping AYA cancer patients fueled my own. He is a great role for all cancer survivors. I was looking forward to survivorship after two bouts of cancer and being 8 months in treatment. One of things I was looking forward to was my First Descents Whitewater Kayaking trip in Rogue River, OR. I can still remember back in February 2016 and I was in the hospital, recovering from the transplant and I got the email from FD asking if I was still interested in joining a trip since they have 5 trips left that are still open. I chose the last trip just as a goal for myself that I’ll be well enough to make that trip. Frankly, I really didn’t care where I was going and I just wanted to set a goal for myself while I was in treatment (yes that was my goal, I already knew I was going to make it). The trip was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. It was a time that I can honestly say that how can such a terrible thing like cancer bring something as beautiful as this. We were told by our FD lead staff that the sponsor of our trip was DJF! And of course I proudly said I met Andrew and their Programs Director, Katie! That is just one of the many amazing coincidences that happened to me in my journey. It never ceases to amaze me.

I just want to thank Dear Jack Foundation for sponsoring that life changing trip for 13 cancer survivors. Because of that trip we now have another family where we can laugh, cry, and share about our battle. The most important thing I learned from dealing with cancer twice in 2 years is that with all the uncertainty of what’s going to happen, just have the absolute faith that it will unfold in a beautiful way. Because I know it did for me, with the help of amazing organizations that help AYA cancer patients like Dan’s House of Hope, First Descents and Dear Jack Foundation.


AYA cancer survivor

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