Joe Junior
Joe Junior campaign leader

The reason that this causes means so much to me is that on September 27, 2013, I was diagnosed with anal cancer. I had just moved from beautiful San Diego, CA back to Baytown, TX to finish school and be here for my Mom and Dad, who are now in their mid to late 70's. At that time, I had no idea that I would need them, more than they needed me.

Approximately a year and a half ago the doctor that I was seeing in San Diego was doing "anal pap smears" on his male patients. My test results came back showing atypical cells. Atypical cells can be just abnormal cells but they can be precancerous cells as well. I, trusting his opinion to keep an eye on it, didn't realize that in fact I had anal dysplasia and he should have treated it as "Stage O" of anal cancer. After research, at this stage, the cells could have been obliterated and possibly not returned.

Once I arrived back home I felt that something wasn't right. I noticed fresh blood in my stools and thought I had external hemorroides. I thought I might need a hemorrhoidectomy.

Shortly after that I started to run a fever and things became very painful. I ended up in the ER with an anal abscess and the MRI that showed that I had a anal mass. I was a college student and I couldn't afford to pay for a PET scan so the doctors here in Houston decided to get a biopsy that indicated that I had anal cancer. They believed it to be "Stage II". I began chemotherapy and radiation.

A year and a half ago if I had known the right questions to ask, known the link between HPV and anal cancer. Questioned my doctor. Done research, as he should have, I may not be fighting the fight that I am today.

When I called him to tell him about the anal cancer. He admitted that he was doing these "anal pap smears" but didn't know how to treat his findings! From my research I found that there can be early detection and treatment. There are two doctors, one in SF and the other in NYC that perform these "anal pap smears" and are specialist in what is called "anal dysplasia" in men. This can lead to anal cancer.

By telling my story I hope to bring awareness to the "MALE" community, both GAY and STRAIGHT, to have a discussion with their doctor, know the right questions to ask. If your gay, ask for an anal pap smear. Know that if the results are abnormal, it can be treated and possibly not spread. If you notice fresh blood in your stools it could be something worse than just hemorroides.

My hope is that no one should find out the way I found out. Hopefully they have caught it early and through treatment I will be cancer free, but what if I had waited and it had metastasized.

I mention the American icon "Farrah Fawcett" who at age 62 died from complications of anal cancer that had metastasized to her liver. She died, even though at age 60 she was declared cancer free. If only she had been screened earlier, she may still be with us today.

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