In March 2011, three friends Jovan Pejic, Nikola Pejic and Igor Fuentes decided to cycle from Sydney to Canberra purely for the challenge. However, just days before the ride in a distressing turn of events, Jovan was diagnosed with Stage 3 Follicular Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma at just 25. The diagnosis was a shock to everyone, as Jovan is known for his athleticism, good health and Ricky Martin looks.
In light of the situation and due to the resilience demonstrated by Jovan, the bike ride continued but with a hint of something extra! The inaugural Opera2Parliament ride raised awareness and funds for Lymphoma Australia.
Jovan and his twin brother Nic, wanted to help others going through the same experience. “After watching the heartache, the unknown, the devastating delivery of the news I thought ‘how many other families are out there facing lymphoma?’. It was then I realised I want to help, not just my family but all the other people affected by this cancer as well,” said Nic.
Jovan and Nic are no strangers to hard work. Having both excelled in the sport of Judo, they made history as the first twins to take Nationals. Today Opera2Parliament has changed directions and Parliament2Opera is now an annual event and a unique physical challenge a cause close to many hearts. In 2014 Parliament2Opera raised over $60,000 to support Lymphoma Australia and patients across Australia.
Jovan is now remission from his lymphoma and along with his family has been riding Parliament2Opera for the last 3 years. Since his experience with Lymphoma Jovan has made a change in his life, he said “Lymphoma inspired me to change my lifestyle to be more active and more involved with my community.”
Jovan is now the owner and operator of a cold pressed juice business, through which he is able to reach out and assist those that a battling cancer and provide hope and support. His experience with lymphoma taught Jovan the importance of nutrition and the importance of taking responsibility for your health.
“Lymphoma taught me the importance of thinking outside the box, being inquisitive, challenging the norms and for never giving up on the quest for information. My experience inspired me to do what I want to do NOW, and not tomorrow; we picked up our backpacks and lived in Mongolia for 9 months. Thanks to our experience with Lymphoma there are now thousands of people in Canberra drinking cold pressed juice every day, learning about nutrition and building a healthier lifestyle.”