‘Powerful spirit’ in a ﬁght for his life
ASPEN – At 6 feet, 4 inches, Justin Doty stands out in a crowd. And not just because of his impressive size.
“If you’ve ever met Justin, he’s just one of those people who is hard to forget,” said Harmony Scott, a longtime friend of Doty’s. “He looks like Tarzan. He’s fun. He loves people. He’s just a super-amazing, powerful spirit and an incredible athlete.”
Now the 44-year-old is fighting for his life. In November, he was diagnosed with advanced esophageal cancer. Doctors at the University of Colorado suggested that he undergo chemotherapy, radiation and the removal of his esophagus and half of his stomach.
“And with all the therapy they recommended, they could only give him two years to live,” Scott said. “And Justin, being the person he is, said, ‘If I have only two years, why would I spend one in the hospital?'”
Instead, Doty has opted for alternative treatment “so he can keep his quality of life for as long as he can,” Scott said.
Doty moved to Hawaii at the end of January to focus on his treatment, which is known as Gerson therapy, an organic diet of natural supplements that includes raw juices and coffee enemas.
“It’s hard for him to be in cold weather,” Scott said. “And it’s one of the places where he can get the therapy he was offered, and my mother lives there. He really wanted to feel nurtured, and being by the ocean is really important to him. He’s really just trying to be as healthy as he can.”
Medical bills have mounted for Doty, a former member of the Gentlemen of Aspen rugby team and a skier, snowboarder and surfer.
He once had full insurance coverage, but two years ago, both he and Scott were the victims of a rear-end auto collision. The accident left him with a concussion, a whiplash neck injury, migraine headaches and insomnia, Scott said. The driver who rear-ended them also was uninsured, Scott said.
“We’ve always had health insurance, and after that he could not find (full coverage) insurance,” she said. “And then (in August), his appendix burst, and we were left with an almost $90,000 bill.”
Doty is covered by ColoradoCares, but the insurance does not work out of state or for the alternative therapy he’s receiving.
To that end, a benefit is scheduled from 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. April 6 at Mountain Chalet in Aspen. A $20 donation is suggested at the door, and a Mexican supper will be served. Live music will be performed by local artists Jes Grew, DJ Ali and Josh Phillips. A silent auction will be held, as well.
Scott said that despite the cancer, Doty is not showing the symptoms of losing weight and the ability to swallow that come with the disease.
“His main complaint has been the migraines and insomnia from the accident,” she said. “He’s such a strong guy. In all other respects, this is just a head-scratcher.”
A support website also has been established for Doty at http://www.posthope.com/justindoty. There, friends can send Doty messages or donate to a US Bank account set up for him (the account number is 1036-8139-7305). Additionally, a Facebook page for Doty can be found at http://www.facebook.com/groups/justindotyfriends.
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An inspirational piece of 20th century artist Herbert Bayer is being installed on the staircase next to Aspen City Hall by his granddaughter, Koko.