Where Are They Now: Justin Ozuna

A little over a year ago, I walked into a clinical trial without having any idea what to expect. Last October, I finally learned I was in a deep state of remission and felt, for the first time since my diagnosis, that I could begin the passionate pursuit of life again. 

I didn’t know where to begin, but I used my fourth enrollment in school as a guide to pursue that which I enjoyed. I loved my classes and major of emerging media and communication. I continued acquiring the tools to sharpen what I had essentially been doing for years – working, creating and marketing in the digital space.

I began to use those skills in my volunteer work with local and national nonprofit organizations. I developed digital marketing plans, built blogs, helped to develop online communities and managed social media.

Ironically, personal blogging once again became difficult. I built a following through my cancer trials and further developed this blog to offer an optimistic voice to the cancer community, but as I transitioned back into the life that you’ve probably experienced all along – daily chaos, stress, work, and fast-paced environment – I felt like if I wrote about cancer, I’d be holding on to something I was desperate to let go of.

Looking back, I’m grateful for the voice that I shared. Sometimes, I can’t believe I was the one who wrote what I did. To have walked through those experiences and allow myself to be transformed by them is something I’m very proud of. It’s a great foundation for a new life, new career and new outlook.

As for now, Katie and I are heavily involved with our wedding planning. I’ve developed our wedding website and am in the process of designing our invitations. I’m optimistic about my immediate future and feel incredibly grateful to have so many options in front of me. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this happy with every aspect of my life. I feel like the storm has passed, sun has risen and that we’ve made progress in the rebuilding of our city.

I’m not sure where this blog will go from here. Because I have a heart for the cancer community, I don’t feel removed from my obligation to share my voice. I still want to offer encouragement, hope and optimism to the world, in whatever capacity that may be. I’ll likely continue to do that here. But I’ll probably write about things unrelated to cancer, as well. I hope you’ll continue to be a part of that. If not, I completely understand.

Thank you for being here. Thank you for reading. Your encouragement and support has played a significant role in my life and it will always be a part of me moving forward.

  • alissa

    Hi Justin, i am a cml patient too (in dallas)and have been in remission for over 12 years on gleevec. I actually started gleevec on a clinical trial back in 2000 at MDA. My mom read your article in the MDAnderson magazine and thought I would reach out. I was diagnosed at the age of 25 in 1999. Since then, ive gotten married and had 2 childen, all while in cytogenetic remission. My experience throughout all these years have been positive. Im glad to hear you are in remission. Im curious about the new drugs they are using for cml. I was never given anything different because gleevec worked within the first year. I still go to MDA every 6 months for bloodwork. I’d like to hear more about the drug you are taking, if you dont mind.

    • http://theozunaverse.com/ Justin Ozuna

      Hi, Alissa, thanks for reaching out! It’s always good to know of other CML’ers in the area. First of all, congratulations on your success with Gleevec! What a joy to have had your CML under control for over a decade. I was on that particular TKI for 4 years, but lost a response and switched to 2 others with no success. I’m now on Iclusig (ponatinib) and have experienced a molecular remission. I’d love to talk to you about the TKI I’m currently on. Contact me on Facebook or send me an email via the link above.

  • GS

    Love this! As with any chronic disease/issue or even a career choice, it is so easy to begin to view every aspect of our life through those _____ – colored glasses (I’ll let you decide the color). I’m speaking from experience here as well, albeit my perspective a little different than yours. Sometimes, stepping back is good. It allows us to evaluate what things are working, determine those things that are marginal or not as we had hoped they’d be, and to regain a perspective on who we are as an individual. In doing so, not only do we get the benefit of a fresh perspective, our whole world opens up and we discover that we HAVE made a difference and are ready to move forward with even more focus and dedication.

    You’re a Good Man Charlie Bro..uh Justin Ozuna!

    So Buffalo or Jamaican Jerk???

  • Katie Narvarte

    Oh thank goodness. I thought you were going to tell me we’re pregnant. ;) Love you boo, you’re my inspiration and my world!

    • http://theozunaverse.com/ Justin Ozuna

      Surprise! I’m pregnant with hot wings!

      • Katie Narvarte

        GIMME GIMME