Likely Symptoms Lead to an Unlikely Diagnosis for Young Realtor
Physicians: Sapna Patel, MD; Dennis Rasbach, MD
It is said that, on average, people change careers seven times in their life. Joshua Frazee, 32, of St. Joseph, was no different. Where Joshua’s story differs from the norm, is his reason for pursuing a new career path.
It was summer and Joshua noticed he would get tired much easier than in the past. He joked with his friend, blaming his weakening body on the perils of getting old. But as autumn arrived, Joshua continued to weaken. He would be fine one day, and the next would be vomiting and exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
“I couldn’t eat, and I am a man who likes to eat,” Joshua joked. He began losing more and more weight and his wife suggested he go see his doctor.
Finally, in December, Joshua’s wife convinced him not to wait for his annual physical, and instead to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. The next few months proved to be a whirlwind for Joshua and his family.
While examining Joshua’s abdomen, his family physician felt what she thought to be an enlarged spleen. She recommended Joshua have an ultrasound, which later led to a CAT scan, then an MRI, and additional blood work, ultimately resulting in a cancer diagnosis. Suddenly, his weakness, vomiting, and unexplained weight loss had a name – and it was colon cancer.
“I was terrified when I heard the cancer diagnosis,” said Joshua. “I had a four-year-old daughter and a wife. I was already starting to struggle at work because of how weak I was. I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
As the cancer continued to attack his body, Joshua could no longer maintain the physical exertion necessary for his job as an equipment operator for the city of St. Joseph and decided to pursue a new career as a local realtor.
Throughout it all, Joshua said he was thankful to have a whole team of doctors on his side as they discussed the best course of action regarding his treatment.
“Instead of just having one doctor working on my case, I had multiple brilliant minds working together,” said Joshua.
As members of his care team oncologist Sapna Patel, MD, and general surgeon Dennis Rasbach, MD, learned more about the specifics of Joshua’s case, and the rarity of being diagnosed with colon cancer at such a young age, it became clear that surgery to remove the cancerous tumor would be extremely high risk. In order to provide Joshua with the best care possible, his physicians partnered with the University of Michigan Medical Center to remove the tumor. After surgery, Joshua returned to Lakeland to undergo eight rounds of chemotherapy at the Marie Yeager Cancer Center.
“I loved my experience at the Cancer Center,” said Joshua. “Of course, I hated the chemo, it makes you feel sick. But everyone was great, from the greeters, to the volunteers, to the nurses, to my oncologist, Dr. Patel – it felt like a big family. Even now when I go for my routine checkups, they all know my name and we joke and have a good time together.”
Joshua soon found out how quickly medical bills could add up.
“Cancer is expensive,” said Joshua. “I never even thought of needing these financial resources. I was 31 when I got diagnosed. I had never worried about medical bills before, or about how I would pay them. Thankfully Lakeland had so many options available. I didn’t even ask about resources; they were just there for me before I even needed them.”
His community was there for him as well, again before he even had to ask.
“Word gets around quick in a small community,” said Joshua. “I didn’t realize how many people cared about me, until I was sitting on my couch with a slew of people wanting to help. They gave me another reason to live and not to give up.”
A year later, Joshua is 32 and cancer free. He is loving his new job as a realtor. And, to cap it all off, on the day his beloved Chicago Cubs won the world series for the first time in 108 years, he found out his wife was expecting their second child.
“Always be happy,” said Joshua. “Always look forward. There is a good chance there is a solution ahead of you, not just darkness.”
Joshua shares more on his inspiring battle with cancer in the video below: