Remembering a loved one lost to cancer

Noelle Waguespack-Franz Special to The Citizen
Noelle and Joel "TJ" Franz I

Joel "TJ" Franz II, was diagnosed in February 2010 with stage 4 gastric cancer. On March 15 he had his whole stomach and part of his lower esophagus removed. At this time the cancer had already spread to various places such as lymph nodes and liver and by late 2010 eventually took over his body including his bone.

Before the diagnosis, TJ had the flu and problems swallowing he didn't want to go to the doctor because his wife, Noelle, was pregnant with their first child together (TJ's third total). At the beginning of February 2010 he could barely swallow anything. While at work one day he went to the restroom as became very faint. He went to the hospital after he experienced a bloody stool. The hospital tried to write it off as a hemorrhoid until an endoscopy/colonoscopy was ordered. The doctor found a mass that was blocking his stomach and esophagus.

TJ never gave up. He continued his battle to fight this disease as strong as he could until there was nothing more that could be done for him. When TJ was given only two more weeks to live he kept his head up and joked with his friends, loved on his kids and spent time with his wife and family. On June 25, 2011, Joel "TJ" Franz, II passed away from Gastric Cancer. He defiantly gave this silent killer a fight and he didn't lose the battle because he fought the hardest he could, God just decided it was his time to start a new pain free life.

Please look at these signs and symptoms, go to the doctor and raise awareness. Gastric Cancer is found mostly in men the age of 65 and up, and only 1 in 5 cases are found early enough to treat before it spreads to the entire body.

Signs:

• Causes:

• Obesity

• Smoking

• Smoked meats

• Heart burn/indigestion

• H-pylori

• Genetic disorders

• Type "A" blood

• Working with cold metal or rubber

Symptoms:

• Problems swallowing

• Flu like symptoms (aching, vomiting, fatigue)

• Dark stool with or w/o blood

• Weight loss

• Loss of appetite