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Why Did I Start Part 1

by John Mortensen October 14, 2018

Why Did I Start Part 1

Why Did I Start Part 1?

I wanted to start this Blog with our About Us information on the website because I believe it says a lot and if you are still reading this in four more paragraphs then it may be worth reading the rest of the story.

Cellular Smart Shop About Us

We are an American Alaska based company who want to share our experience strength and hope with you wherever you are in the world. We have been through life’s adversity and God willing continue to come out the other side. Spirituality is the cornerstone of our existence in recovery and health. We want to be a positive contributor to this planet, environment, and do good. If that interests you keep reading and read our blogs.

We are always looking for the best products to use and share with you. We live in Alaska so we like products that are tough, that are some level of waterproof for rain, snow, or just plain sweat. We hike, fish, hunt, live subsistence, explore, breathe, work out winter, summer, and all year around and love outdoor activities.

Our goal is to share with you what we see, hear, and do here. From the latest in Bluetooth and Wireless Technology, Safe Headphones, and QI Wireless Chargers to tough durable phone cases and to everything in between. Organic, natural, durable, environmentally safe, recyclable, field tested and fun is what we strive for. We want a symbiotic relationship with planet earth.

We are working to get better every day. If you have any questions or comments please email us at Thank you for taking the time to read this and consider us for your precious and important purchases!! God Bless You!!

Well you’re still with me!!

Okay so here it goes; how and why did I start Have you ever hit the reset button on your life and completely started over. Not always by choice either but by necessity. Have you ever been body slammed so hard it takes your breath away? Have you ever been brought to your knees because the only thing you have left is the weakness to fall down on your knees and pray? Given almost everything you own away, pack up what is left in your truck and trailer and leave? Start your life completely over in a new place? I know some of you have.

In May 2017 I moved to a Homer Alaska a brand new place after living almost my whole life in another place Las Vegas Nevada. Sometime after I got here to Homer I met a man named Atz Kilcher who told me I should tell my story and start to write.

If you’re an introvert like me that is not the easiest thing in the world to do. I actually am not much of a talker in many ways. I can by necessity when needed of course but actually prefer being quiet. Change is not always easy for some of us and that was not in the cards for me originally. But I surrendered once again and now I am learning to do that. Writing a Blog was the furthest thing from my imagination 5 years ago and could never have imagined doing it.

My name is John Mortensen and I am 55 years old and live in Homer Alaska. In May of 2015 I started a new journey after being diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer. That cancer started my faith journey, rethinking and completely starting my life over again, trying to stay alive, and started the faith part of the journey of ‘Leaving Your Father’s House.

I have two grown sons Colby and Christopher. Christopher and Vivian his wife are having our first grandchild this morning some time and it is it still not born at 5:17 am Alaska Time as I am writing this!!  So exciting!!

Something New

In early May 2015 I was sitting with my parents and wife and my mother said you have a big lump on your neck; what is that? I said I don’t know I shave in the shower because my beard is so heavy and so I never look at it. I had a pretty sizable lump under my right jaw line.

So I went to see a couple doctors by the 21st of May. In addition to the lump in my neck my voice kept getting progressively hoarser over the last year and I didn’t know why. They did an ultrasound and needle biopsy on the lump which was a swollen lymph node and found the first carcinoma cells.

So my wife and I went on a planned vacation and came back. When we got back we went back to a ENT Ear Nose and Throat doctor. The biopsy lead to surgery on my neck with an explanation that “The area of the operation is a very sensitive area because there is a lot of nerves there. The surgery could cause facial paralysis if they hit a nerve wrong so we had to be aware of that.”

The doctor removed a Kiwi size fruit lymph node from my neck which would require further biopsy. By 8/21 we had the biopsy results back. “Metastatic poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma.” Now I am not a doctor but am very analytical and being a project manager in some form or another all of my life. I can read a pathology report and know how to operate Google!!

That meant cancer to me. The funny thing was the Ear Nose and Throat doctor sat me down and said he was indifferent from doing further testing? I was dumbfounded but ok? So his and my relationship was over and had to go to “Cancer School”. Had to find new doctors.

So I went and found a new General Practitioner Doctor Lawrence Allen by chance because I met his wonderful nurse, Julie Friedman who was the Assistant Manager of the health care clinic where my current doctor had been and was going to at the time. I had struggled with doctors in the recent months at how they were and acted. Everyone is very busy in this world and they are no different. But I had accidently found Nurse Julie and Dr. Allen because I was growing more unhappy with the care I was receiving at that time.

The “Metastatic poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma” in a nutshell meant because the cells had metastasized (spread) and that they did not know what kind of cancer or where it came from. So that meant the shotgun effect of testing for now. By September Dr. Allen, an “Old school” concierge doctor started me on a battery of PET scans, ultrasounds, blood tests and every kind of test.

New Direction

Dr. Allen also sent me to his people, his recommended oncologists to start my path of doctor selection. I started with Dr. John Ellerton. Dr. Ellerton said to me “If I were you I would go see Dr. Wang, an Ear Nose and Throat doctor and professor at University Medical Center. He’s not much for bedside manor but in my opinion, not only is he the best in Las Vegas but one of the top guys in the world.”

Good enough for me and sounds like my kind of guy. Sometimes if feels like these doctors are showing off on how far they can stick that camera down your throat though your nose. They squirt Lidocaine up both your nostrils and your like; Wow, Geez, as you put your palms up too hold them back. Give me a minute while I adjust my vision; then “Get ready here comes the camera!!” I envision them in the back room talking like and old Cheech and Chong album. “Yep I could see his kidneys today from his nose ha-ha. I was headed for his anus through his small intestine and he was starting to squirm a little too much he-he. That must be a new record from that distance ha-ha!!” 

Dr. Wang scoped my throat and had me in surgery by Wednesday 10/14 within a few days of meeting him. The new surgical pathology report described “Poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma” in three out of the 5 locations tested. It was in my tongue and tonsil areas. Dr. Wang had removed a tumor in my tonsil area but did nothing on my tongue.

Next came the Oncologist’s in November. I met with a few doctors and I selected Dr. Toy from Dr. Wang’s recommendations for Doctors he thought were good. Again a brilliant guy in my opinion. After seeing many doctors; Dr. Toy took the time to diagram for me and highlight a report that showed me exactly what stage of cancer I was in. He also does a very site specific radiation treatment as opposed to a “Shotgun effect” like many radiation oncologists do. I did not want that on my head, neck, and face anyway that I was likely going to get from the other doctors. The prognosis was finally made and Dr. Toy described to me that I had Stage IVA(4) Oropharyngeal Throat Cancer.

Put on some weight

I had been told earlier by another doctor as I was interviewing other Chemotherapy Oncologists that you will need to put on some weight. When you go through the surgery, then the radiation on your throat you usually can’t eat. The pain is so great that you cannot swallow and you lose a lot of weight which causes further weakens in you. So you get a funnel with a tube into your stomach to drink your food through.

Woo hoo that sounds fun. Well I do what I always do and went to work studying some more. I went through the medical journals, websites, and blogs and found out as much information as I could. It didn’t look good but the Actor Michael Douglas had gone through the same thing and he looked okay. So just put one foot in front of the other and see what happens, right?

I am a very analytical person and a Project Manager at heart so I probably drove my wife crazy with all of my research and facts. She wanted to be positive and hope for the best and I wanted the truth and the facts. Well it didn’t work out so well in our troubled marriage and she ended up moving out. She just wanted to take care of me in her own way and I did not want to be sick. I am sorry for that.

So this is how God broke me down one day at a time.

My chemotherapy doctor had offered me two options for treatment Cisplatin Chemotherapy or Immunotherapy. I was at my friends Brian’s wedding and his sister Kim’s boyfriend at the time and now husband the Martial Arts Movie Actor and Karate School Master Jeff Speakman. Jeff also had the exact same kind of Throat Cancer that I had and had already been through and what I was just getting ready to do. What are the odds right?

Since I had been in martial arts all of my life I not only thought this was super cool but could very much relate with him on this level. Jeff and I went outside the wedding and talked about my two options and what he had been through. Jeff had chosen Immunotherapy over Chemotherapy at the advice of his doctors from the very prestigious City of Hope National Medical Center. He told me about the amazing care he received and how wonderful the doctors where.

He told me how the Immunotherapy was not that bad and he felt really good and thought it was a really good decision he had made. Jeff was in remission now and was exceling with his Karate Schools all over the world and was thinking and working on the possibility of a new movie. Jeff is an amazing guy and he and his new wife Kim are an inspiration for me as they have been on their own similar journey in their own way.

It is the people like this that you meet in your life that are so essential and important for you. I have only run across the two people I know about and one I do not know personally. Michael Douglass ate in a restaurant I was working in when I was a young man and I saw him in person that night and remember him. Oropharyngeal Cancer while growing rapidly in the world is not as common as many other cancers and you don’t hear about it every day.

As you meet people like Jeff and Kim who have come back from adversity, survived, and continue on their life path. Their life path in maybe a different direction in whatever that means then being on the path they were on before. This is the guidance you need to have so that you can see that you can do it too.

As I looked at all of the side effects from both choices and weighed my survivability chances I started the Chemotherapy Cisplatin and radiation treatments. Doctor Toy had told me that he would almost recommend that I did not get the Chemotherapy but could not tell me that completely.

So you think you’re tough and strong?

I spent the last 20 years running a construction business and working my tail of at a minimum of 50 hours a week and many times much much more. The good news was in business at that time; so you made it through the great recession and many companies didn’t. The bad news was; you made it through the great recession in business and know you have a lot of debt and the great recession still is not over Buckaroo. Business is just really tough and competitive. They don’t always outline this in detail of course when you are growing up.

Well me being me I started on the fight back. They told me I had to gain weight great I will make it all muscle. I was already training for the amateur fighting I was doing in Tae Kwon Do and working out hard. I decided to have as much fun with it as is could. Instead of cutting and making weight I will gain weight. I need to gain 20 pounds no problem. I eat healthy and good but I will start on the Paleo Diet and Lifestyle and see if that helps?

I started taking almond butter, almonds, and raisins and freezing and eating those 3 or 4 times per day. That made me very happy!! Haha Definitely helps you gain weight?? You are like, hey should I eat all of this stuff? Then you are like well you might die anyway so who cares!! Fun stuff!!

Well my son and his wife Vivian just had their first baby girl this morning and my first grandchild Charlotte Fay at 8:18 am in Las Vegas. To be continued….

John Mortensen
John Mortensen


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