On the morning of Saturday, December 19, 2015, the city of Chicago, hip hop community and world of music lovers at large lost one of its brightest stars. Timothy “DJ Timbuck2” Jones, passed away from cancer-related complications. The beloved radio show host was only 34.
Introduced to the art of DJ’ing and mentored by Grammy-nominated producer The Twilite Tone, Timbuck2 was a staple of the Chicago music scene, holding down his daily “drive time” mix on 107.5 WGCI during the 5 o’clock hour.
Many were shocked to learn of Timbuck2’s cancer, a diagnosis he kept closely guarded for more than a year. In a recently released open letter written shortly before his passing, he shares about the day that forever changed his life and offers a powerful testimony about the importance to seeking medical help, especially for men.
In his letter, he takes us back to November 18, 2014. “Prior to that day I spent most of the summer sick. I lost close to 30 pounds, started suffering from all kinds of sickness. At the same time, I had no idea why. I also, like most men, I refused to go to the doctor. As the season progressed, so did my illness. By November, I was forced to be hospitalized due to severity of some of them.”
Surrounded by his parents in a hospital room, the doctor delivered the news that, “We have results from the last test we ran and I’m sorry Timothy but you have stage 4 renal cancer.”
Timbuck2’s reaction was shock: “What the F is cancer?” He writes, “Honestly, I knew what it was on base level but was clueless as to the details and severity.”
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), also called renal cell cancer, is a common type of kidney cancer. It usually begins as a tumor growth on one of your kidneys and is more common in men than women. According to the American Cancer Society, stage IV kidney cancer – the most common form – means that the cancer has grown outside of the kidney or it has spread to other parts of the body such as distant lymph nodes or other organs.
Although the exact cause of renal cancer is unknown, there are several risk factors, including family history of kidney cancer and smoking. African Americans are also at slightly higher risk. Timbuck2 was 67 weeks smoke-free at the time of his diagnosis.
Rather than break down and feel pity for himself, Timbuck2 believed that God chose him for this journey for a reason, perhaps to save the lives of others. He writes:
“It’s never been in my nature to lay down in a fight with anyone, bet let me tell you this! I’ve never experienced so much pain in my life! From all the procedures, surgeries. Not being able to walk, sometimes eat, swallow, think straight, chemo, radiation, etc…Mind you, I’m not telling you this part of my story for pity, but more for awareness. Most young people, men mostly, have a problem with going to the hospital. If my mother had not forced me to get up and go to the doc that one day, I would be dead. With no story to tell. I was to a small degree afraid to find out what it might be, or what pain I would have to go through for a cure. Then I quickly realized how much stronger I was than that, so I gave in and put the rest in God’s hands.
We have quickly reached the last quarter of 2015 and I was diagnosed November 18th, 2014. It took me as long as it did to be public with my story because I wasn’t ready for people that I didn’t know this. At the end of the day, I was wrong. I now know being who I am, I have a social responsibility to let the rest of the world know and anybody else that is going through this that you are not alone!!! Your struggle is my struggle and I’m here to fight with you. To the ones with too much pride and don’t like going to the doctor because they’re too proud and can handle it all, I have high hopes that my journey and story brings you back down to earth.”
To listen to the letter its entirety, read by family friend Demetrius Salazar, play the video above.