Throughout John Andretti’s life, there wasn’t a race car he didn’t at least try to drive.
From USAC midgets, sprint cars and Silver Crown cars to the Indy cars of the 1980s and 1990s, to NASCAR Cup Series cars in the 1990s and early 2000s to the more current Indy car machines, if it was a race car, Andretti wanted to drive it.
He even drove an NHRA Top Fuel dragster during the early 1990s and ran a few sports car races in his career.
Whatever he raced, Aldo Andretti’s son always did it with a smile, a sense of humor and a positive attitude.
Today, Andretti keeps that attitude as he battles something far more serious than an ill-handling race car. He is fighting the greatest opponent of his life, an opponent that may one day take his life.
Andretti has stage IV colorectal cancer and is undergoing a radical new treatment that he hopes will succeed, where chemotherapy has failed.
“I’m getting by better with this round of treatment than I am with the chemo,” Andretti told SPEED SPORT. “It’s actually way better than chemo. I just hope it works well.”
Andretti is undergoing immunotherapy on a trial basis. The FDA requires a cancer patient to go through every recovery avenue possible before going to a trial. A clinical trial collects data, but researchers are in the test stages of the trial.
“It’s a bit of the roll of the dice, but it beats doing nothing,” Andretti said. “Also, chemotherapy is no cure. I was lucky enough to get on a trial because of my health.
“Believe it or not, I’m considered healthy other than having cancer. There are only 52 people in the United States on this trial and they kick people off it all the time if they can’t take the treatment or the trial is bad,” Andretti added. “The drug companies pay for the patient to be on it. They don’t pay you; they pay for the trial and it’s very expensive.”
At 56, Andretti still has his boyish appearance that allows him to pass for someone in their late 30s.
Andretti, who showed no signs or symptoms of having any health issues, had a colonoscopy when he was in his mid-50s.
The news he received afterward was shocking and sobering.
“They call colon cancer the ‘Silent Killer,’” Andretti said. “They do that because you can have it and not ever know it. The only way to find out if you have it is a colonoscopy. If you are so inclined that you don’t want to spend a day of your life to find out for sure if you don’t have colon cancer and you are that dumb, then you can try Cologuard and all those things.
“Or, if you are me and you are dumb enough not to do it when you probably should have and have a doctor tell me it wasn’t necessary because my blood looked good and didn’t have a problem.
“Of course, he is no longer my doctor.”