Javon is 31, and one of the youngest pastors in his North Carolina town of Lexington, NC. He enjoys spreading love and making everyone he meets laugh. He is an alumnus from Shaw University in Raleigh, NC, where he studied Religion & Philosophy. In his spare time, Javon finds peace on a quiet afternoon fishing in Southmont or Winston-Salem, NC.
How did you get involved with the Hero’s Journey™ Art project?
I received a phone call from my good friend, Christie Williams. She could barely contain her excitement when telling me about the project and how she would like for me to be involved. I was in a clinical trial in Denver at the time, so we collaborated along with a mutual friend on designing my brick. I was really honored to be a part of the project because I had the opportunity to share a part of my experience in clinical trials alongside many other voices. #HerosJourneyArt correlated with my personal motto #StrengthForTheJourney. This slogan came from my clinical trial because I believe I truly gained strength in this journey. The scriptures on my brick are where I found my strength each day.
What led you to a clinical trial?
A few years ago, I was diagnosed with bone cancer. For five years I couldn’t do anything for myself, including walk, and I was actually paralyzed on my right side. Thankfully my family took care of me throughout this time. My clinical trial took place over a 7-month period in Denver, Colorado. I was initially introduced to clinical trials by my doctor. I must admit, I was extremely hesitant at first and I didn’t believe in clinical research but all I knew was that I wanted a chance to live. A huge factor to my hesitation was that I was fearful of the unknown and anxious about the process. I went home after the conversation with my doctor and prayed about it. It took me about a week before I decided to participate.
I believe going through my clinical trial made a difference. It helped me. In my trial, they taught me how to walk again, be independent and gave me hope each day. On a weekly basis I knew I was going to see my clinical trial family who empowered me to keep going.
During my times at the hospital, I met two people who chose not to go through a clinical trial with me and didn’t survive. Not to say it is because they did not go through a clinical trial that they did not survive, but I do believe participation could have made a difference in their life and in the lives of others. I am thankful it gave me the chance to live.
Did you make any meaningful connections during your trial experience?
I can definitely say it was certainly a different experience, and it was difficult being in Denver away from my family. I have a God-brother who lives there so I was able to find refuge in what was a foreign place to me. In addition to my God-brother, my clinical trial team became my family. I still keep in touch with them. People call it clinical trials, I call it “family time”. Engaging with those who were a part of my clinical trial made it easier to be away from my family in North Carolina. I found someone who was like a mother, someone like a father and even staff who were like my siblings. My clinical trial family recently came to North Carolina for my pastoral installation a few weeks ago to support me. It meant the world to me to have them here as part of this momentous occasion.
What’s the status of your health now?
I am in great health. I feel good. I am living. I’m living the best life I can live. I didn’t let a sickness take me down and I give thanks to God and clinical research. I am walking, driving and living on my own. There was one point in time I could not do anything. I was dependent on people for 5 years to do everything for me, but now I do everything on my own. I’m truly grateful.
What is your hope for clinical trials?
For clinical trials to continue to make a difference in the lives of others as it has done for mine. My hope is that clinical trials remain a source of hope and build confidence in others and that there is more of an opportunity to participate. Clinical trials are needed. In the future, when people hear clinical trials, I don’t want them to be fearful as I once was. I want the tone associated with clinical research to be excitement at the possibility of another opportunity. Clinical trials provide people with so much more than they can imagine, and I want the brand of clinical trials to be more positive.
Was there anything that you wished had been done differently in clinical trials?
It was a great experience. It could have been better if more people participated and experienced what I did. I really don’t have anything bad to say about it. I got everything I needed and more.
In what 3 words would you use to describe clinical trials.
Blessing. Helpful. Worth it.