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In July 2015, a 32-year-old bright and budding L.A.-based comedian was told he had one year left to live. Diagnosed with stage 4 peritoneal mesothelioma, Quincy Jones, a name the comedian shares with the famous music producer, realized he couldn’t wait any longer to leave a legacy.
Peritoneal mesothelioma, like all types of mesothelioma, is caused by the exposure to and inhalation or ingestion of asbestos, a toxic carcinogen. A rare disease, peritoneal mesothelioma begins when tumors form in the thin abdominal lining, and as Jones soon learned, there is no cure.
Getting Treatment & Finding Hope
To combat the symptoms of the disease, Jones has been receiving chemotherapy treatments. As he states in a Boston Globe interview, “I feel nauseous. I feel sore. I feel tired.” However, he upholds a positive attitude, and feels blessed for the sense of community that surrounds him. “I know for a fact that I’ve never truly been alone through this.”
The grim prognosis that accompanies most mesothelioma diagnoses prompts many patients to reflect not only on their fears, but also on their hopes. Like so many others, Jones wondered what he would be able to leave behind for his friends and family to remember him by.
Born in Seattle, Jones’ career had humble beginnings at open-mic nights and unpaid club gigs. To give his career a push, he decided to move to L.A. where he worked a steady day job as a barista. Right before he learned of his diagnosis, he had signed on to an East Coast comedy tour.
After learning about his diagnosis, a friend and fellow comedian Nicole Blaine and her producer-husband Mickey decided to help Jones launch a Kickstarter to fund his dream of starring in an hour-long stand-up comedy special.
As word began to spread, comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres soon learned about Jones and invited him onto her show, where she surprised him with a check for $15,000 and the news that HBO agreed to air his special, which will be taped on April 4th. Since then, the fundraiser has closed after raising over $50,000, far surpassing its goal of a little under $5,000.
Jones continues to perform, albeit at a slower pace than his previous 1,000 shows a year that marked his 20s as he now fights to balance a heavy prognosis on one hand and a surge of success on the other. As for the future, Jones plans to keep on “living life. I didn’t choose to accept this prognosis and I still don’t. I’m going to keep fighting, I’m going to keep living my life. I’m going to keep doing comedy and spreading joy.”