“Your heart is working overtime. I give it four or five months tops.”
Hearing words like that from a doctor is more than jarring, it’s nearly coma-inducing. A wave of emotion, regret, fear, and panic swells through the body and yet, on the outside, the lights are off.
“Knock knock brain, are you there? We have to process this.”
This is the true reality of Justin aka @TexasSRoundUp after receiving this diagnosis from his doctor. His life-threatening illness, Graves disease.
“Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid. With this disease, your immune system attacks the thyroid and causes it to make more thyroid hormone than your body needs. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck,” according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease.
The disease in itself is only fatal if left untreated. In Justin’s case, his heart problems are expediting the process. He also does not have any insurance to pay for surgeries and treatment which even in itself will cause a lifetime of complications for me.
His illness has also kept him out of work.
What make’s Justin’s story so remarkable is how he got to this point. It started with a tweet.
From there, a GoFundMe was set up by a YouTuber named Mark Holmes with a goal of $2,000 to send Justin to his first Cowboys game. There’s only $500 left to be raised, however, he’s already been given a sideline pass to this Sunday’ game against the Rams.
He wants the leftover money to go to the Salvation Army because he was homeless for a part of his life and they took care of him.
What caught the attention of Rapzilla was a tweet about a Christian rap bucket list.
When we reached out to Justin, he explained to us how much Reach Records, Rapzilla, and Christian rap has meant to him over the years. The craziest part was how he was introduced to it.
When he was 19 someone walked past him and said, “Listen to Lecrae.” He responded, “I don’t know what that is or who that is. How do you spell it?”
From there, it led him to Andy Mineo, Derek Minor, Trip Lee, FLAME, and others. A year after listening to the music, he got into the message and it changed his entire outlook on the world.
“Without that person telling me ‘L-E-C-R-A-E’ I wouldn’t know anything about Jesus and be where I am today,” he explained. “I was walking to the bus stop and had headphones on. I hated people. If you looked at me wrong, I hated you.”
He got saved a year or two later.
“Lecrae was the first I listened to. I want to dig his mind about the word,” he said of his first bucket list choice. “I felt myself going off the track and then I heard Zauntee’s ‘God Taught Me’, and that song is fire. That lit a fire under me.”
The second, “I want KB and Andy Mineo to rap battle and I judge the winner.”
As far as V. Rose, “A woman that raps about God, why wouldn’t I want to go to a movie with her.”
Justin doesn’t know why he wants to play basketball with Derek Minor but wants to.
And for the Tedashii pick explained, “His song ‘Make War’, had a little bit of John Piper in it. I can’t get close to John Piper, but Tedashii is. I’d love to dig into his mind also.”
Lastly, he’d love to see a full concert with all of them.
Things have not been easy for the now 28-year-old. “I’ve been through ups and downs like crazy. I lost my mother at 17 and it shook my entire world.”
He’s also dealt with hereditary heart and migraine problems, and always remembers having it but managed it.
In 2016/17, he signed up for the Navy and “lied my way” past the health problems they ask about.
The Navy does something called a “Moment of Truth” where Bootcamp recruits are given a chance to make a final statement about past drug and alcohol use, crimes, or any medical conditions they didn’t disclose. Justin revealed that he was dealing with depression.
They sent him to the medical facility to discuss more. At the time, he also had a migraine that was out of control so they did blood work and discovered hyperthyroidism.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) occurs when your thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. Hyperthyroidism can accelerate your body’s metabolism, causing unintentional weight loss and a rapid or irregular heartbeat.”
Justin got sent home because he didn’t have insurance and because he stood up at the Moment of Truth, the Navy didn’t cover anything.
About a month ago he walked to the hospital and had to be knocked out with Ativan because of pain. His blood pressure was reading 176 over 207. If you take a look at the chart below, those numbers are basically off the scale.
Then he was rushed to a second hospital where they diagnosed him with Graves Disease. Two or three weeks ago he had an appointment to catch up. That’s when he was told by the doctor that he had four or five months to live.
“Can you repeat that?” said Justin. “I was shocked. My mind did not go to God for the first time in a long time. I was full of regret in my head for all the things I didn’t do.”
He continued, “I don’t have health insurance or anything for surgeries and if they did that, I’d still be a complete mess.”
About a week later he posted something on Twitter and didn’t know what would happen. And now here we are.
Justin said that he initially tweeted Dak Prescott because he impacted his life. They both lost their moms around college time. Justin quit on life and when he saw Dak’s story when he played for Mississippi State, he had said something in an interview that really shook Justin’s mindset on life.
“My entire mindset changed after I saw that. He doesn’t even know.”
The Texas sports fanatic said of people going through a similar situation, “Listen to your doctors, God put them here for a reason. Don’t let their word be the final say, let God be the final say. He’s the ultimate physician. If he heals me completely, that’s a miracle. The doctors can’t say they did it. No, God did.”
He continued, “Don’t let your mind go to your regrets. Think about what Jesus has done for you personally and the blessings you’ve received in life.”
Regardless of the time left whether it be five months, or two years, Justin will see what God does in him with that time. He has hope and faith for what’s not here yet.
What do you want to be remembered for?
“I want them to remember my 116 tattoo and half of my ‘Man Up’ tattoo that I couldn’t finish,” he shared. “Remember me as a Christ-follower. Remember me as a die-hard Cowboys fan. You know, God’s favorite team is the Cowboys. Three Wisemen were led to Jesus by the North Star. Dallas is in North Texas and the logo is a star. It’s all Biblical, just read between the lines (he said jokingly of course).”
“Actually, I don’t want them to remember me. I want them to remember the Creator, who I stood for – Jesus.”