John FreyWhen I was 31 years old, my life was changed forever when I was diagnosed with Stage IV B non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was given approximately two years to live and came as a complete shock. Up until that point in my life, I had led a healthy lifestyle and was consistently participating in recreational activities. Despite having my life being turned upside down, I knew that the only thing I could do was to fight. I underwent chemotherapy for two years and was up for consideration of an experimental bone marrow transplant at UCLA. As I continued to fight for my life, I managed to still work as a biology teacher at Franklin High School and continued to work out in preparation for the transplant. Once the 6-week procedure was complete, I was forced to to leave my position as a teacher and focus on my rehabilitation for the next year.


Once my rehab was complete, I was able to return to teaching with a new perspective on life. Throughout my bout with cancer, I became acutely aware of the support needed for cancer patients and their families. I continue to mentor students and their families throughout their battles and I also contribute as a volunteer on the cancer floor at St. Joseph’s Medical Center.


Thirty-one years later while vacationing in Oahu, I broke my neck booging boarding and was paralyzed from the neck down. After 3 ½ months at Santa Clara Medical Center for surgery and rehabilitation, I was able to go home and get back to a little normalcy. Rehab started first in my home, then at physical therapy, eventually making my way to the In-Shape: Marina location in Stockton. Before I had broken my neck, I had participated in Pilates classes for at least 5 years and I am sure that aided the rehabilitation process to only needing the assistance of a cane and leg braces to walk. I currently exercise 5 mornings a week and always make time for socializing and a cup of coffee.


I was diagnosed with cancer at 31 years of age, followed by a neck break at 62. If the trend continues, my family and I should not expect another challenge in my life until I am 93.