Fox 40 Special Report: Diagnosed Young - - Jackson, MS

Fox 40 Special Report: Diagnosed Young

Fox 40 Special Report: Diagnosed Young

Mike Sands Mike Sands
David Sykes and Jamie Pace Source: Jamie Pace David Sykes and Jamie Pace Source: Jamie Pace
Justin Reed Source: WLBT archives Justin Reed Source: WLBT archives

We've told you Mike Sands' story: Just 32 years old and fighting cancer for the second time. 


But he's not the only one going through the fight of his life. 

Jamie's Story:

The call came from Jamie Pace’s doctor this summer. Stage 2 breast cancer at age 32.

"The doctor called. I could tell by the tone of his voice that it was not good," says Pace. "That night, when I was rocking my little girl, it hit me then that that was when my fight needed to start."

That fight has been tough. Round after round of chemotherapy, taken on Friday, and most times, taking all weekend to recover.

"You’re sick, you don’t feel good. You don’t want to be anywhere but at home pretty much by yourself."

Pace works at Jackson Academy, just like her father, David Sykes, who battles a feeling of helplessness as his daughter fights cancer.

"As a father, your entire life has been to taking care of your children," says Sykes, JA's Athletic Director. "And then the realization hits: you can’t do anything right now. This is out of your hands. I think that’s the most difficult part."

Pace plans to undergo a double mastectomy in January and she’s kept a positive attitude throughout.  

"All I know is just had to fight for my family and fight for me because I want to be here rocking along, just like I always have."


Justin Reed's fight:

"That first day I was in there, he said something about 'Yeah, they told me it was terminal'. I had to go make sure I knew what terminal was," says Wayne Brent, JSU's head basketball coach.

Brent knows exactly what terminal means. He just couldn’t believe Justin Reed said it. All 6-foot-8 of him. A man who played in the NBA and who was just 35.

Former Ole Miss, NBA star Justin Reed dies of cancer

Brent has fond memories of being Reed's coach at Provine and then again at Ole Miss. 

"He’s a hero to a lot of people, and it let’s you know that even your hero is human. If it can effect Justin Reed, it could affect any human being walking."

Reed passed away in October, less than 5 months after being diagnosed with angiosarcoma. It's a cancer of the inner lining of blood vessels and it had reached his spine. The man who soared first at Provine and then Ole Miss was paralyzed.

"Just to see him deteriorate and go down so fast, being so big and so strong," says Brent. "The cancer doesn’t pick rich or poor, black or white, good family or bad family. It attacks everybody. And nobody is immune."  


Encouraging news for those diagnosed young: advancements in cancer research are happening all the time.

"We’re going to see greater advances in, not just in chemotherapy, but also surgical therapy, advances in radiotherapy," says Dr. Darryl Hamilton, Mike's oncologist at UMMC.  "All of these lead to the hope that, as we go along, the survival of, not just the young, but also the old will improve."

 And the best advice doctors can give: listen to your body and do your self-exams.  

"For skin cancers, checking all your spots. Do your self breast exam, do your testicular exam," says Dr. Jennifer Barr, orthopaedic oncologist at UMMC. "Know your history, know your risk factors. And pay attention. Pay attention to your body because your body will tell you if you pay attention."

Follow Mike Sands on Facebook and be a part of #TEAMSANDS .

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