Artist Uses Talents to Illustrate Stories of Those with Myeloproliferative Neoplasms

March 10, 2020

Jeffrey Glen Jones – an American illustrator who started doing comic books about 25 years ago – is using his creative talents to illustrate the stories of those impacted by MPNs, as part of a campaign called Rare Reflections: MPNs Unmasked.

Jeffrey Glen Jones — professionally known as J.G. Jones and is an American illustrator who started doing comic books about 25 years ago – was diagnosed with polycythemia vera (PV), a type of myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN), which transformed into myelofibrosis (MF), also an MPN, in 2009.

Now, 10 years later, Jones is using his creative talents to illustrate the stories of those impacted by MPNs, as part of a campaign called Rare Reflections: MPNs Unmasked. The campaign aims to bring to life the impact MPNs can have on the lives of patients, their families and caregivers, and help those across this rare disease community find their voices and feel heard.

In a recent interview with CURE®, Jones discussed his journey with polycythemia vera and how he copes with it as an artist. He also discussed using his talents to help bring awareness to this disease.

CURE®: Can you tell us about your journey with MPN?

Jeffrey Glen Jones: Well, I've been doing comics for about 25 years, and about 10 years ago, I noticed when I was working, that I would feel really fatigued and would often put my head down on the drawing table and wake up like five or six hours later, and I knew that there was some problem going on. I had a number of other issues with focus and dizziness and some strange itching sensations all over my body.

I ended up going to see my primary doctor who did a blood test. And it took a long time to get the blood out of my body. So that was the first indication that something was wrong. My (primary care physician) sent me on to see a hematology oncologist, who diagnosed me with polycythemia vera. And it was really great to finally know what was going on and that it wasn't just, you know, overwork or something strange that I didn't know what was going on. I had a name for it, and I could figure out what to do about it at that point.

What ran through your mind when you received your diagnosis, given that MPNs are so rare?

I had never heard of it before. I've always been a bit of a science nerd. So, I just go into the research so that I would be prepared to talk to the doctor and understand what was going on. I pretty much read everything I could find about the MPNs and polycythemia vera, in particular, so that I had an understanding of what was going and how they were treating it. And my doctors were, luckily, really receptive to me chiming in and learning about the disease, you know, sharing information. It was really, really helpful, rather than just showing up and doing what you're told.

As an artist, how did you use this as an outlet to cope?

It's always been my outlet for dealing with everything. It was mostly about just integrating the treatment with my wife. Working in comics, it's always about deadlines, deadlines, deadlines.

So, I changed the kind of jobs that I took and switched that to things that didn’t have as hard of a deadline, doing projects that were prepared well in advance of publication time so that I wasn't pushing things up against the clock all the time. And that let me have the time to focus on treatment as well, which, as you can imagine, it was a lot of money.

How are you using your artwork to raise more awareness around on MPNs?

That's great question. I have been partnering with Incyte on the Rare Reflections: MPNs Unmasked series just to talk with other patients and bring their stories to life with my storytelling and art skills, interviewing patients and getting to know them and then doing illustrations to go with the interviews to bring their stories to life not only their disease story, but their life story, how they're living with their particular disease. And it's pretty inspiring talking to these patients because everybody has a unique journey. And not everyone's disease presents the same. It's been great just learning and sharing stories.

For more information, visit voicesofmpn.com.


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