What do you do when you’re 32-years-old, have just been diagnosed with mesothelioma, and work as a comedian? You joke about your mortality, of course! That’s just want comedian Quincy Jones (not the singer) has been doing since he was told he had Stage IV peritoneal mesothelioma some 11 months ago. Doctors gave him a year to live at time of diagnosis.
“They gave me the prognosis of a year. I’m going to live past a year,” Jones said during the podcast, Last Things First. “But I do have this looming over my head that eventually the fluid will come – eventually what I’m doing right now to maintain my body won’t work forever.”
“So, I didn’t know when I was going to die before, so I don’t know when I’m going to die now. But it just puts it in perspective that I could die. Sometimes we don’t live our lives like, we don’t always live our lives like I could die. You get in your car, you think, you get on the train, and anything can happen.”
In the meantime, the comedian has received a boost from fellow funny person Ellen DeGeneres, who helped Jones’ friends raise enough money through Kickstarter for Jones to produce an hour-long special. Still, he continues to joke about what is a very serious diagnosis involving a disease that almost always kills and kills quickly.
“Now I feel pressure, and expectations are high, and I feel expectations to die,” Jones quipped during his hour-long special entitled Burning the Light. “I can’t live longer than three hours with this [expletive]. I can’t be the Magic Johnson of cancer.”
Jones explains that because of his lack of health insurance, he did a lot of self-diagnosing before he found out he had peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the abdomen. That likely means that precious time was wasted.
The African-American comedian thought he had celiac disease and jokes that now he eats gluten-free even though he doesn’t need to do so. He even makes jokes about his chemotherapy regimen and how the drugs have affected his memory and created serious mood swings.
Still, Jones recognizes that mesothelioma of any kind is no laughing matter, and the peritoneal type is even more difficult to treat than the more common pleural variety of the disease, which affects the lining of the lungs.
He hopes his plight might call attention to this form of asbestos-caused cancer and its seriousness. The non-profit Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) agrees.
“Once his Kickstarter campaign went viral and news outlets began coverage of his feat, the media couldn’t get enough,” said Maja Belamaric, director of communications at MARF. “Suddenly, mesothelioma, was being talked about in the news.
This kind of attention is very useful because it allows us the opportunity to educate the public about this cancer,” she added.
“Though mesothelioma is a very aggressive cancer, it does not mean that there are not some patients who are successfully treated and go on to live good lives without disease or actually live good lives with disease,” said Mary Hesdorffer, executive director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and expert nurse practitioner.
So far, Jones is beating the odds.