“ My cancer experience has been a blessing in disguise for me personally. I am more focused, enjoying new friends, appreciating old friends. Don't waste time on relationships that are toxic, life is too short!
Jerry Cozadd is the 3rd Colo-Rectal Cancer “thriver” featured this month. We are highlighting Colo-Rectal mAss Kickers this month who are living life and continuing to fight these horrible diseases. With a united front, together we can collaborate and fight all of these diseases more efficiently. Jerry currently resides in Topeka, Kansas and is an award winning salesman with over 14 years of sales experience. We connected with Jerry through mutual friends online.
mK: Thanks for doing this Jerry! What/ when was your diagnosis?
JC: My original diagnosis was stage 3 colorectal cancer. I found out I had a tumor mass at the sigmoid junction during what I thought would be a ordinary colonoscopy March 2009, I was 39 yrs old.
mK: What were your symptoms?
JC: My symptoms looking back we’re pretty much text book if you were looking up colon cancer related symptoms , but what seemingly healthy 39 year old is looking up cancer symptoms when you are 39 years old!? Seriously though, I had a cramping sensation at my lower abdominal area, blood streaks in my stool, foul smelling stools, then change in bowel movements, and a general feeling of fatigue.
mK: Who are your heroes?
JC: I met several heroes from the original diagnosis to the last nurse who assisted me during my last night of recovery and there really are too many family and friends, especially my wife and parents who helped. My wife is a super hero! She has rolled with the punches before, during and after my treatment,surgeries. Gert Cozadd (my wife) prayed, cooked, looked after my well being as well as kept our two girls who are 12 & 15 strong start to finish.
mK: You are a very lucky man to know that she has your back! What motivates you?
JC: I would have to say my kids & wife are a great motivation to keep moving forward in life and don’t look back and say” this doesn’t feel good” or “this part of my body is a little disfigured with a scar.” I am still here thanks to the ultimate motivation which is internal positive thinking, I can
honestly say it is hard to think negatively if you are only focused on the positive aspects of your life.
mK: That is a great attitude! When was the first time you felt like yourself after your treatment?
JC: I never really had a point of not feeling like myself per say. Did I feel lonely and wonder what will happen to my family if I die? You bet those kind of thoughts entered my mind. I really felt stronger than before cancer when I attended a First Descents kayak camp in Colorado 3 months after my ileostomy reversal surgery in July 2010. I felt a sense of accomplishment and empowerment associated with the environment and fellow survivors bring out the best in each other.
mK: What makes you laugh, cry, angry?
JC: I have always been kind of a prankster, so any opportunity to tease my friends, family and even playing tricks on our family cat makes me laugh. I have very thick skin and my emotions are sometimes subdued. The death of a loved one or seeing a friend endure a hardship is a soft spot for me.
mK: Pranks keep people on their toes. Empathizing with the suffering of others has the ability to connect people on a whole different level. It’s what makes us human. What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve done?
JC: I met my wife (she is from Mexico) during a summer vacation with my best friend, we drove from Kansas to South Padre Is, TX. I met her the last night of our stay and the rest is history (16 years later and 2 beautiful girls.)
mK: Hee hee hee. Pretty cool. Lets ask you this… What was the toughest challenge you faced as a survivor? How did you overcome it?
JC: Like most others that have come across this question, cancer and it’s treatment process is a pretty big ordeal. A bigger thing to overcome is ourselves. I am still growing myself and challenging my self to grow mentally, physically, spiritually to gain the strength and focus on my family & friends in need rather than my own personal problems and desires.
mK: What is your guilty pleasure?
JC: I love getting together with friends and having dinner, cocktails & dancing the night away into the morning.
mK: Do you have a signature dance move? You can call it “The Cozadd Slide”. j/k! But seriously… Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
JC: I am stronger in 5 years, I have watched my oldest daughter graduate high school and moved her off to college, my youngest is enjoying high school. I am enjoying my new house. 10 years: I am a more active than ever before, enjoying trips across the country touring scenic sites on my Trek bicycle with my wife and friends.
mK: Cool. What do you like to do in your spare time?
JC: I like most survivors like to stay active and only wish there were more time to enjoy my extracurricular activities. I love to get out on my road bike and feel the air in my face and pedaling is awesome exercise! I hit the gym with my wife and good buddy several times a week, this helps burn the stress of the day and rejuvenates me mentally and physically. I love to watch my kids activities Alex is 15 and she is active in volleyball, dance, and getting ready for softball. Sam is 12 and is very smart, loves art, animals, crafting, and plays softball.
mK: What are you up to now?
JC: I am reading books on leadership/management. I am currently reading Turn The Ship Around! By L.Daniel Marquet. I have a great mentor who recently moved to Australia to take a leadership role and is reading the same book and we are comparing notes.
mK: Was the book based on this song? Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
JC: Never, ever let negative thoughts get into your mindset! Positive thinking is so POWERFUL! Research your disease as knowledge is power as we know and arming yourself with knowledge will give you a sense of comfort when making decisions with your healthcare providers. Please make sure to read on keeping up your nutrition especially during treatments, a clean and well researched healthy diet and natural supplements incorporated with my chemotherapy was key for my cancer journey and recovery thereafter. Lastly do not let anyone put a expiration date on you, surround yourself with positive people & stay active,keep on keeping on!
mK: Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know…anything.
JC: I am really transparent for the most part. I do need to stay on task with myself and keep on track with my life plan as at times I tend to live for the moment and do what feels good at that time and that gets me in trouble at times.
mK: Any parting words for all the mAss Kickers?
JC: It’s ok to be scared! My cancer experience has been a blessing in disguise for me personally. I am more focused, enjoying new friends, appreciating old friends. Don’t waste time on relationships that are toxic, life is too short! Work smarter if not harder to accomplish your goals( make sure the goals are worthy, meaningful ones). Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today as tomorrow is not guaranteed!
Jerry Cozadd: “in-the-moment” liver, positive thinker, prankster, husband, father, inventor of “the Cozadd Slide”, and model Colo-Rectal Cancer “thriver”. Thanks for hanging with us Jerry!