Jay Cuetara was 47 years old living in the beautiful city of San Francisco when he was diagnosed with stage IV rectal cancer. Being in good health and with no family history of colon cancer, he didn’t think much of the fact that there was a tad bit of blood on the toilet paper one day. Lucky for him, his doctor thought he was close enough to 50 to have a colonoscopy. How many people are told not to worry, that it is most likely hemorrhoids since you are too young to have colon cancer? Jay was forunate his doctor ordered the scope. The rest, as we say, is history.
Jay started on Folfiri (5fu/Leucovorin/Irontecan) plus Avastin to help shrink his lung mets. He had surgery in September of 2009 and a temporary ileostomy and another surgery for the reversal in April 2010. Jay considers himself lucky that he had little problems with both his ileostomy and regaining bowel control after his reversal.
Though his lung mets were inoperable, the chemo was keeping everything in check until Feb 2011, when a pet scan showed mets to his L5 - T10 vertebrae. His radiation oncologist performed cyberknife on these with great success! This past June (2011), he is back on 12 cycles of Folfox (5fu/Leucovorin/Oxiliplatin).
Jay has found that learning about his disease and being open to all possible treatment options has enabled him to continue working full-time as a Business Development Executive for a well-known company. He has a wonderful integrative doctor who works closely with his oncologist. He says his quality of life is almost as good - if not better - than before cancer. He exercises, eats well, drinks two cups of green tea daily, takes other herbs and supplements, and has acupuncture every other week with energy healing sessions. His lung mets are stable!
In October of 2011, Jay met with President Obama to discuss the drug shortage and share his experience of not being able to get his chemotherapy drugs. He was also mentioned in the statement the President released on October 31.
Jay loves being a CCA Buddy for newly diagnosed patients because he loves hearing other people’s stories as well as sharing his. He feels he gets as much out of the experience as he hopes his buddies do. Being a Buddy helps him feel productive because he knows his story will give hope to newly diagnosed patients.
This story was composed by Jeannie Moore, CCA Patient Support Manager, since Jay is currently traveling to Washington DC to speak in front of the FDA regarding the 5fu and other drug shortages. His treatment a few weeks ago had to be postponed because there was no 5fu at UCSF. He is there speaking on behalf of all patients who need these life-saving drugs.