Mojo is a word Wilmington resident and Organic Lifestyle Apparel founder Sam Shelby has always associated with success and spirit. After Shelby was diagnosed with a surprise case of Stage IV lung cancer on Dec. 1, that word became something to rally around.
“I had been coughing and feeling funny for a couple months. … I’m not a smoker, I’m pretty healthy and played a ton of tennis this summer,” Shelby said during a Friday, Jan. 2 phone interview, during a return trip from the University of North Chapel Hill Lineburger Comprehensive Cancer Center. “It was just a lingering dry cough that caught up with me and it got to a point when I couldn’t stop coughing.”
A few rounds of scans and tests later, Shelby found out he has multiple small tumors on the outside of his left lung and cancerous cells in 2 liters of fluid he had drained from the area. Due to certain specifics about his particular case of lung cancer, Shelby has only two options for treatment — chemotherapy or a programmed cell death pill (PD-1). Shelby hopes the results of a scheduled biopsy show he qualifies for PD-1, which would boost his immune system to help fight the cancer cells, instead of undergoing the destructive process of chemotherapy.
In the meantime Shelby has launched his own blog, Mojo Warriors, as an outlet for his progress and a rallying point for others fighting cancer.
“It has been pretty crazy the amount of communication I have received from everyone, and you start hearing the stories of just how many people are affected by cancer,” he said. “Just in the last few days I have found out how many people, just in a few degrees of separation from me, have lung cancer. So there are obviously many people out there who need the same support as my friends and family are giving me.”
Shelby said he would rather see more people become aware of the people in their world that have cancer and how they might support them. Through Organic Lifestyle Apparel, he said he is also developing cancer apparel to benefit a cancer charity organization like the Jimmy V Foundation.
Shelby said the Mojo Warriors movement is all about bringing people together to support those battling cancer and providing intermittent moments of levity, noting that laughter can be powerful medicine.
“I have lived in Chapel Hill, Phoenix, Raleigh and Wilmington. … I like that I have this huge circle of people in my world that I want to try and get more involved in battling cancer and supporting people that have cancer,” he said. “I am going to try to get this huge gang of people and make a positive impact on someone’s life.”
For more information, visit www.mojowarriors.com