Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Good Mojo and Great Friends

Seahawks came to the Quintile Wrightsville Beach marathon
in support of Sam Shelby.
The word “cancer” isn’t a good one. For most of us, it means a disease that kills a lot of people. But when the doctor looks at you and says “cancer,” the word takes on a new meaning.

This is what Sam Shelby ‘93 experienced on December 1st, 2014. He had a bad feeling about this appointment – his doctor and friend had called him two days earlier than scheduled. Here was a healthy, active, slim, non-smoker with stage four cancer in his lung? But being a man of action, Shelby only paused a few moments before asking “what’s next?”

Since then, Shelby has not only kept an upbeat and hopeful mindset himself, but inspired positivity in others as well.

“Bummin’ around isn’t gonna do me or anyone else any good. I want to convey confidence, but also a bit of goofiness and levity,” Shelby said. He is using his blog, Mojo Warriors, to keep his friends and family updated about his fight against cancer, but also to keep them cheerful.

“I didn’t have the energy to write or call everyone in my world,” Shelby said. “It made sense to use [the Mojo Warriors blog] and social media to brief everyone.”

Cancer can negatively influence the way one perceives the day-to-day. However, that isn’t the case for Shelby. He has continued to be as hopeful and as charismatic as usual. In fact, based on the content of the Mojo Warriors blog, you might say the Shelby has become more positive.

Alumnus (and Shelby's old suitmate) Rick Civelli '94 with his WB Surf Camp in Costa Rica.
Mojo Warriors is a hybrid of posts from Shelby about his treatment with funny videos and pictures. His posts range from news about his chemo appointment, to Seinfeld references and stories about ice cream. Regardless of the content of the posts, they are always entertaining to read.

“My entire career has been in digital media, so I’m familiar with online publishing and have done some writing in the past,” Shelby shared.

His professionalism shines through. Many of the posts from the “Update from Sam” section of the Mojo Warriors blog have dozens of messages of support, encouragement, and praise. The comments mention how much enjoyment readers get out of his posts – not just the ones sharing good news, but the ones that simply brighten readers’ days with funny stories or memories.

Even the name of the blog is optimistic: “Mojo” to represent all the good vibes and love coming Shelby’s way, and “Warriors” to represent the battle Shelby and his support group are fighting. The Mojo Warriors even have a sign: three fingers up, three fingers down to make “MW.”

Former UNCW point guard Drew Phillips '94 and his son's hoops squad showing their love for "MW."
And the good mojo just keeps flowing. Shelby is surrounded by people who are rooting for him. He has a support system in Wilmington and Chapel Hill, and it’s only growing. Friends from UNCW have been large supporters of Shelby.

“I am only a small part of the support that Sam has received,” said Adam Keen, a friend of Shelby’s for five years. “From the locals of Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington, to individuals across the US, Sam has been encouraged by many and has inspired many more.”

Just a few weeks ago at the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon, the Mojo Warriors gathered in support of Shelby. That’s in addition to the calls, text, cards, gifts, and donations that Seahawks have sent.

“I can’t thank them enough and I’m super grateful to have such caring and supportive people on my side. They are true friends of 25 years now, and will be for another 25 plus.”

UNCW Alumni Relations/Christine Schulze '15

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