Veteran NASCAR and IndyCar driver John Andretti is battling Stage 4 colorectal cancer – a disease he had previously never thought much about.

Now, the cancer is taking up most of his time. While he continues to fight for his life, he says he has formed a new appreciation for those who are going through the same situation.

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“I have so much respect for people that are going through this now,” John, who is nephew to racing legend Mario Andretti, tells rtv6, “because your good days are basically mediocre.”

John was diagnosed with colon cancer in January. He will have surgery in June to remove an area of his liver and possibly his spleen. Despite the many monotonous days that are taken up by chemotherapy and drug treatments, John is looking forward to one special day coming up. That occasion takes place in June, when he will walk his daughter, Olivia, down the isle for her wedding.

“It’s unfair to them,” he says of his family, who have to watch him struggle with the disease, “I’ve said it several times. It’s unfair to them that I’m even in this condition, because this could’ve been prevented. Now, for me to go through it, it’s my own fault, because I didn’t get screened soon enough.”

John waited until he was 54 years old to get a colonoscopy. Now, he hopes to spread the word on the importance of getting checked by using the hashtag #CheckIt4Andretti. And even though he’s torn that his family has to see him in this condition, they are there with him every step of the way.

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The racing community is also there for John. In fact, they plan to honor him in both the NASCAR and the Verizon IndyCar Series. Every car during the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 will be adorned with #CheckIt4Andretti decals, according to

“You can sit and mope and do all the things that you want to do that you think you would expect to do,” John says. “If you do, you’re losing, and no one in this family like to lose.”

Nashville-based writer and Rare Country contributor Melinda Lorge has always been passionate about country music. Follow her @MelindaLorge and join the conversation @RareCountry.
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