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Meet JJ, Brain Cancer Survivor

Meet JJ, Brain Cancer Survivor

John Bovitz, or JJ as his friends call him, found himself facing a tough diagnosis in the summer of 2013 that he was all too familiar with.  While kayaking with Charlie, his 5 year old son, JJ had a minor seizure and experienced an intense flavor of metal in his mouth.  After that weekend he went in for an MRI. 

The MRI identified a continued growth at the previous site where JJ had suffered a left temporal lobe class III astrocytoma just 10 years prior. However, his doctors feared that the tumor reoccurrence had most likely progressed to class IV. 

Having already pursued brain surgery the first time JJ faced his tumor, the new reoccurrence was inoperable and his treatment options were greatly limited. Due to previous treatments, JJ had also lost a significant amount of vocabulary and short term memory. These previous side effects prevented JJ from attaining his doctorate in biochemistry, so was determined this time around to focus on what long term side effects could result from his various treatment options and what impact it would make on his overall quality of life.

After attempting to combat his tumor with chemotherapy, he found the drugs no longer working. At this point there are only two options: a different chemotherapy and/or radiation.  JJ felt strongly that radiation therapy was his best option.

He considers himself fortunate to have had such a wonderful care team, and appreciated the plan that was put into place. Due to the location of JJ’s tumor, the team introduced him to proton therapy and JJ was impressed by its precision. Given his past side effects, he was extremely interested in how proton therapy could help preserve surrounding healthy brain tissue, while still treating the tumor. 

During his proton therapy treatment, JJ shared that he experienced less loss of hair in comparison to his first occurrence and was able to maintain his vocal communication capabilities.

JJ is doing well post treatment and has become passionate about making sure others have access to the treatment that he credits with saving his life. Most recently, JJ volunteered to speak with the Oregon Health Evidence Review Commission to share his experience and fight for other Oregonians facing a cancer diagnosis.