Jay Trunnell has been a Ducks fan nearly his entire life. When the 62-year-old recently received the opportunity to tour Autzen Stadium, the Moshofsky Center and the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex—the hub of Oregon football—it was a day to remember.
“This is a bucket list thing for me. It really is. To have this happen this year is mind blowing,” says Jay.
Jay stood with his brother and his daughter on the field at Autzen earlier this month during the University of Oregon vs. Colorado game and was honored as the Fight Like a Duck Hero of the Game. Jay is one of 11 local cancer patients being celebrated at Ducks games throughout the year as part of the Fight Like a Duck campaign, a partnership between Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Oregon athletics aimed at recognizing survivors and bringing awareness to cancer care in our community.
“With cancer, so much is out of your control—your financial situation, your work situation,” Jay says. “So, when you have something like the Fight Like a Duck campaign where you can focus on having fun, being happy and not worrying about that stuff for a little while, it makes a big difference.”
Diagnosed in 2015 with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a form of blood cancer, then with colon cancer soon after, Jay regularly attends support group meetings at WVCI where he’s able to offer encouragement and hope to other patients.
“In some ways, I feel like God gave me these cancers because he knew I could deal with it, and he put me in a position that maybe I can help someone else who can’t,” Jay says. “People who’ve just been diagnosed often come to these meetings very emotional and then they meet me, someone who’s been fighting it for 4 years and is still going. I have a whole different perspective that I can offer them.”
Living with cancer for the last four years hasn’t been easy; the ongoing treatment has created financial hardship for Jay. But he understands, now more than ever, that time is precious, spending time with loved ones is priceless, and no matter what—to never give up.
“I tell other survivors, ‘No one knows your spirit like you do. They don’t know your body; they don’t know your ability to fight back.’ No matter what you’ve been told about your cancer, no matter how bad it sounds, you stand up and fight.”