Andretti fights cancer and his message is on full displayMay 18, 2017 10:52pm

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — John Andretti can't shake the sound from his head. The haunting sound of a machine pumping toxic chemicals into his system as part of chemotherapy.

"I wake up in the middle of the night and I sit and listen to this pump going and know this pump is poison," Andretti said. "I hear that pump right now. I hate that thing."

The 54-year-old Andretti is in the fight of his life and has been for several months. He is battling cancer that started in his colon, spread to his liver and doctors believe to his spleen, too.

The former racer is back for his family's annual May reunion in the venue that has always felt like home — Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a place that provides Andretti with the boost he needs right now.

"This place is life to an Andretti," he said. "I get chills because this is the most special place on the planet for me, for my family. This gives me energy."

Andretti started 49 consecutive IndyCar races from 1990-92 before moving to NASCAR, where he made 29 or more starts every year from 1994-2003. He was the first driver to attempt the Memorial Day double, racing first in the Indianapolis 500 and then NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600.

Andretti spoke Thursday during an announcement for his #CheckIt4Andretti campaign encouraging those 50 or older to get a colonoscopy. Andretti hopes the message is heard by everyone, not just racing fans.

A decal will be placed on every car in 101st running of the 500, the Coca-Cola 600 and the Freedom 100 races. The decal will also be displayed at other races in Indiana and Kentucky this month with the #CheckIt4Andretti message "Schedule Your Colonoscopy Today."

"John is in a different race," Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles said. "And not unlike his spirit and his fight, he has figured out a way to be a superhero in this new fight and this new race that he's on."

It's an important message that can save a life or at the very least, relieve some pain and financial burden. Had he gone through a colonoscopy at 50, Andretti said, he believes the cancer never would have progressed to this point. Throughout his career, Andretti received regular medical screenings — just not the one he's now pushing for.

"I was always focused on my health," Andretti said. "It wasn't a matter that I wasn't paying attention. ... The only thing I was missing was a colonoscopy."

Andretti has nearly forced those closest to him to get one, including his cousin, Michael, who recently had his. Prior to Thursday's announcement, Andretti placed the first decal on one of his cousin's cars.

"It is perfectly aligned and straight," Andretti said. "I was going to actually put it on crooked so it would drive my cousin nuts for the whole month."

Most of Andretti's chemotherapy treatments have been in North Carolina, where he lives, and his sixth treatment will be in Indianapolis next week. In June, he will have surgery on his liver and spleen.

"People get embarrassed by talking about colonoscopies and they shouldn't be because it's just something that's natural," Andretti said. "So it's something that's really close to me now and obviously important, and for everybody to do. It's way easier than doing (chemo), I can guarantee you that, because I did both."

___

More AP auto racing: http://racing.ap.org

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

Indy 500 winners Castroneves, Kanaan face uncertain futuresThere's no denying that Helio Castroneves and fellow 42-year-old IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan are in the backstretch of their racing careers
Indy 500 kingmakers Foyt, Penske begin plotting their futureA.J. Foyt and Roger Penske are as much as a part of Indianapolis as the pagoda and Gasoline Alley, yet both 80-something team owners have started planning for the future
FILE - In this May 18, 2017, file photo, drivers Takuma Sato, of Japan, left, Alexander Rossi, second from left, and Fernando Alonso, of Spain, right, talk with car owner Michael Andretti, second from right, during a practice session for the Indianapolis 500 IndyCar auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis. Michael Andretti needed some assurances before running six cars in this year's Indianapolis 500.  He also needed some help. But aside from finding extra crew members and sponsorship, the biggest challenge of this week may be communication.  (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
Alomania takes center stage at Indianapolis 500
Jeffrey Dean Morgan to drive Indy 500 pace carJeffrey Dean Morgan, one of the stars of the hit show "The Walking Dead," will drive the pace car on Sunday for the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500
FILE - In this May 29, 2016, file photo, the car driven by Alexander Rossi is serviced during a pit stop in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis. Putting together the right pit crew can make all the difference on race day. Just ask defending Indianapolis 500 champion Alexander Rossi, who overcame some early race struggles last year and wound up relying on those same guys to help him reach victory lane. (AP Photo/Rob Baker, File)
American dream starting to become reality in IndyCar Series
CORRECTS THE DAY AND DATE - A.J. Foyt watches during the final practice session for the Indianapolis 500 IndyCar auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Friday, May 26, 2017 in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith)
Dixon has pole, Alonso has spotlight for wide-open Indy 500
AdChoices

Related Searches

Related Searches

AdChoices