Fundraiser to benefit man going through second cancer battle


Sitting down with his family to eat Thanksgiving dinner in 2018, Jason Robbins took a few bites of food and felt full.

“I wasn’t really sick. I just didn’t want to eat, couldn’t eat and was like, ‘Eh, it is what it is,” he said.

Between then and Christmas, he lost 15 to 20 pounds. At Christmas dinner, he felt the same way as the previous holiday.

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“I was like, ‘All right, I’ve been dealing with this for a month. There’s something not right,’” he said.

In January 2019, after some urging from longtime friend Tonya Joseph, he went to see a doctor and had numerous tests run.

“I knew something was wrong because you could just tell by looking at him something wasn’t right, and I kept on him and I kept on him ‘Go to the doctor,’” she said. “He’s one of those that will not go to the doctor. He wasn’t going to go to the doctor.”

In early March 2019, Robbins learned he had Stage 4 stomach cancer.

“It was right at the opening of my esophagus and my stomach, so everything I was eating was getting stopped,” said the 43-year-old Seymour native who now lives in Jennings County. “That’s why I couldn’t eat for a while. It just felt like I was full all the time.”

He said it took him awhile to tell others he had cancer.

“I knew there was something bad wrong, and I didn’t get my results back until the beginning of March,” Robbins said. “At that time, I had probably lost right around 35, 40 pounds, then also going through a divorce and all that at the same time.”

He immediately began oral chemotherapy once a week at home and continued through late summer. He also had two spots on his lungs but said those disappeared three months into chemo.

On Nov. 15, 2019, he had surgery to remove 6 inches of his large intestine, 3 inches of his esophagus and two-thirds of his stomach.

“I felt like a new person,” Robbins said. “They told me, ‘It’s going to take you awhile to get back to eating the way that you were because you don’t have near what you used to have.’”

For a month and a half, he said he ate soft foods.

“I couldn’t eat steak because steak was such a large piece of meat that I couldn’t digest it fast enough, so I stuck with a lot of ground-up meat, chicken, hamburger and stuff like that because I’m a big meat and potatoes guy,” Robbins said.

Second fight begins

He received good news from checkups until late April this year when he said he started feeling different again and knew something wasn’t right.

Tests and bloodwork revealed disappointing news.

“They came back and said, ‘Well, get ready for a fight again,’” Robbins said of scans revealing two new spots of cancer in his stomach and two on his large intestine.

He told Joseph and family members he was ready to fight again but didn’t want to have another surgery.

“Being 43 years old, I don’t want to walk around with a colostomy bag,” Robbins said of the thought of having the rest of his stomach removed.

“Tonya and her husband have been by me through thick and thin, and they told me, ‘You’re going to do what you’ve got to do to keep going,’ and I’m going to,” he said. “I’ve still got my kids. I’ve got a grandbaby that’s supposed to be born any day. I want to stick around for that kind of stuff, and I want to see my other two girls get married and all that.”

He knows that requires doing oral chemo again and whatever else to stay healthy.

This time, though, he said it’s a different type of chemo that’s twice as strong.

“My first month, I’ve been taking it every day, and it has been really rough,” Robbins said.

Now, he’s taking the pill every other day. On Sept. 15, he goes to the doctor for a checkup.

“This time, I caught it earlier and could tell I wasn’t right. I’ve not lost all the weight like I did the other time,” Robbins said. “I only eat once a day, but I munch a little bit more through the day.”

Like a lot of people with cancer, Robbins has a mix of good days and bad days.

“One day, I’ll be good, feel 110%, and then the next day, I’ll feel like somebody should just go ahead and start digging a hole because I’m done,” he said.

He, however, knows he has to stay positive because he’s not the only one in his family battling cancer. His brother has throat cancer.

They’ve had other family members, including their mother and an aunt, die of cancer.

Robbins said he’s not sure of the cause of his cancer.

“The answer I got whenever I asked that question is everybody has cancer cells in their body and it’s a matter if the cancer cells come alive or if they stay vulnerable,” he said. “With me having so many close family members that have had cancer, I was bound to get it sooner or later.”

Pressing forward

After his surgery, Robbins tried to return to his job driving dump trucks for AB Transport in Brownstown but couldn’t do it.

His boss, Aaron Black, told him he could help with the new line of the company, installing fiber telephone lines. He had done that several years earlier through another job.

Then learning of his second cancer diagnosis, he wasn’t supposed to be outside or sweating because of the medication he was taking, so Black took over the fiber work and Robbins switched to dispatch and payroll.

“It’s part time, but it keeps me busy enough to keep my mind off (cancer),” Robbins said. “That’s the biggest thing is I’ve still got a little bit of something to be able to keep going.”

Moving from working for the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department to AB Transport at the start of 2019, Robbins no longer had health insurance through an employer, and then he found out he had cancer, so he has had to use most of his savings and income to pay medical bills and expenses.

There also were some days he didn’t feel like driving or he needed to take off work, and Black and his wife, Brandy, were understanding.

“They are the greatest people in the world to work for because they have worked with me through the whole thing and been there to help me,” Robbins said. “They’ve been an absolute blessing to work for.”

Robbins has applied for disability, but the process takes time and is being drawn out even more because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s a nightmare,” he said. “I filled out for disability the first of July and I still haven’t even gotten a paper back saying they’ve received anything from me.”

Benefit ride Saturday

Joseph has organized the Cancer Sucks Benefit Ride for Robbins to raise money for her friend of 20-plus years.

The ride for motorcycles, side-by-sides and any other type of vehicle will start at 1 p.m. Saturday at AB Transport, 285 E. State Road 250, Brownstown, across from the Jackson County Fairgrounds.

The cost is $20 per vehicle. The ride will travel scenic county roads through Tampico, Reddington, Cortland and Vallonia before returning to the starting location.

Afterwards, a meal featuring pulled pork, a hot dog or a burger with baked beans and macaroni and cheese can be purchased for $5. Beer, cupcakes and homemade apple dumplings also will be available for purchase.

There also will be live music by Adam Crabtree, bounce houses for kids and a 50/50 raffle. Attendees should bring their own face mask and lawn chair.

Joseph said she has more than 80 sponsors for the event.

“Myself and my husband wanted to do something to help him to relieve all of that stress and worry because that’s the last thing he needs when he is trying to fight this. You couldn’t find a more honest, trustful person than that man there,” she said while looking at Robbins.

A GoFundMe account ( also has been established to help Robbins. His medication costs nearly $800 a month, and he will continue chemo through the beginning of 2021.

The fundraisers mean a lot to Robbins.

“I’m a private person, I don’t want it, but then I know in the back of my mind and in my heart I need it, and it’s hard to give that up. Being the type of person I am, I’ve never been a person to ask for help. I guess it’s the way I was raised. My dad’s the same way,” he said.

“As far as (Joseph) stepping out and her husband and Aaron, all of them, there are no words to explain the gratitude I have for them,” he said. “Even the people that have donated stuff for this benefit, I really thought it would be a couple people, a few friends to get around. It’s crazy how many people really step out to help. I’ll never be able to repay what everybody has done for me.”

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What: Cancer Sucks Benefit Ride for Jason Robbins, who is fighting stomach cancer for the second time

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: AB Transport, 285 E. State Road 250, Brownstown

Who: Anyone with motorcycles, side-by-sides or any other type of vehicle

Cost: $20 per vehicle and $5 per plate for the meal following the ride; beer, cupcakes and homemade apple dumplings also will be available for purchase

Other features: Live music by Adam Crabtree, bounce houses for kids and a 50/50 raffle; attendees should bring their own face mask and lawn chair

Information: Call or text Tonya Joseph at 812-216-8507 or Aaron Black at 812-216-0122

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To make a donation to help Jason Robbins through his second battle with stomach cancer, visit


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