Gary Johnson | CaringBridge

Gary Johnson Team Duke!

First post: 3/16/2017 Latest post: 6/5/2017
Gary's story began in late January, 2017 when he had symptoms of what he thought was a chest cold.  Concerned about a cough that eventually progressed to causing shortness of breath, he visited the emergency room where he was diagnosed with pneumonia.  The next day, he saw his family doctor for a follow up and a CT scan was ordered.

After having the CT scan, Gary visited with a Pulmonologist (lung doctor).  The pulmonologist shared the CT scan image with Gary, which revealed 2 large masses close together in the area where the airway branches apart to each lung.  The obstruction caused by this mass mostly affects the airway to Gary's right lung.  Gary was informed that lung masses of this kind were most often cancerous, but more testing was needed to confirm this.  Gary had to wait another week, and then had a procedure where the doctors were able to take a biopsy of the mass in his lungs.  After several days, we learned the biopsy was positive for cancer.  After hearing this difficult news, Gary was scheduled for a full body (PET) scan to determine if cancer was affecting any other areas in his body.  This scan was done in early March, and within a few days after, he returned for an MRI of the brain and a CT scan. 

After all testing was completed, Gary was finally seen by an Oncologist (cancer doctor) on March 8th, 2017 and was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma of the lungs.  More difficult news followed, as Gary was informed that the cancer had spread to several lymph nodes and multiple cancerous lesions were found in bones throughout his body.  One positive is that his brain was found to be cancer-free, as this type of cancer can commonly grow brain tumors.  This type of cancer is categorized by doctors as "limited" or "extensive".  Since Gary's cancer has spread throughout his body, his cancer is considered the extensive type.  Gary was given the recommendation to proceed with chemotherapy.  At this time, there are no plans for radiation with the cancer being so widespread, but there is potential this could be part of future treatment.  The oncologist said the lung masses will shrink in response to the chemotherapy (hopefully fairly quickly), which should help to decrease the difficulty Gary is having with shortness of breath that seems to worsen daily.  

Gary's diagnosis is especially difficult as he is still grieving the loss of his wife Karen, who passed away in August, 2016 after a very long battle with kidney failure, diabetes, and other complications.  Gary was a devoted caregiver for Karen for many years, and now finds himself in the position of being the patient and needing support and care.  This is not a familiar feeling for Gary, who is arguably one of the most selfless people on the planet.

Please feel free to post words of encouragement for Gary as well as his daughter Diana and granddaughter Grace, who shine the brightest lights in his life and could also greatly benefit from being lifted up in your thoughts and prayers.








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