Help a Father of 4 Fight Cancer

Here is Byron's Story.

In 2008, Byron finally got to start his own business.  He opened his first store and invested every dime he had into it.  Our family was doing well and so was our business.  The previous picture was taken right before things changed.  It was taken at my mothers funeral.  

It wasn't very long after that photo was taken that Byron found himself suffering from fatigue, and lack of motivation.  He dismissed it as despression from having spent 2 months with his mother in hospice which was a very trying experience.  His doctor actually prescribed an anti-depressant and life continued.  

Our Family had another child, four boys now.

Things were great  But a year had gone by, and Byron had lost a lot of his motivation and drive.  He also started to have a re-occurring sore throat.  The third time the sore throat came back he also had a slight swollen lymph node, so he went to the Doctor.  He was surprised to find out he had a tonsil swollen to the size of a large walnut.  His doctor prescribed 2 weeks of a strong antibiotic and scheduled a return appointment.
Two weeks went by....and the swelling in the lymph node became huge.  It was swollen enough now that you couldn't see his ear if you looked at him from the front.  He looked like he had a severe case of the mumps.

The Doctor immediately scheduled a biopsy but the soonest he could schedule an appointment was in two weeks.  The Biopsy came back negative and Byron felt some relief, but the ENT said that the biopsy was inconclusive and scheduled Byron for surgery the next day to do an excisional to determine if the tonsil and the tumor at the base of his tongue was cancerous.  They were.  While Byron was in recovery, the doctor explained to his wife that he had Stage IV Squamous Cell  Head and Neck Cancer and without treatment he had less than 6 months to live.  His odds with treatment were only 14%.   

Byron has always been a fighter, but hearing the word cancer can cause fear in the bravest person.  His friends, family and customers raised him up in prayer.  He attested to feeling sheltered and unafraid.  He was very confident that he was going to beat this disease.  

After being diagnosed he was quickly placed on a very aggressive chemo schedule with a three drug regimine and this was followed up with another round of Chemo not quite as aggressive, but coupled with a maximum dose of radiation to his head and neck.



The regimine began to take its toll on his health, his business, and his financial status.  He had health insurance for his family, but because he had type 2 diabetes, he was unable to get health insurance for himself in the state of Alabama.  These pictures are before the radiation.  By the time radiation was finished, he had to have a feeding tube inserted, and he had lost 100lbs.

Towards the end, he was losing between 3 and 4 pounds a day.  He needed to gargle Lydicane Mouthwash just to drink water.  Nothing tasted right and his mouth was one large ulcer from the the tongue to the bottom of the esophagus.  He didn't want a feeding tube, but finally relented with a month left in his treatment.  He realized he should have given into this sooner because after the feeding tube was inserted and he was able to get some nutrients his weight stabilized.  He needed the feeding tube for 3 months after his treatments had ended while his body healed.   As you can see from the smile, he never gave into fear, even though he didn't recognize himself in the mirror anymore.  His wife however wasn't so sure and it was right around this time that our neighbor lost his fight with Pancreatic Cancer and Byron's physical resemblance to him really worried his wife Jana.  She was scared of what would happen if Byron didn't beat this disease.

After this ordeal, it took Byron almost a year to recover.  Even to this day he suffers some side effects from the Radiation and Chemo.  
He had insurance now and the money However in July, he started to get tired again, and at his 18 month scan, the disease had returned to his lungs.  Doctors told him that it was no longer curable, but it was treatable.  He kept fighting with a positive attitude and was determined to beat it.  He had three section of his right lung removed during surgery and spent a week in ICU.  He returned to his oncologist and his oncologist suggested he start Chemo in a couple of weeks, but Byron insisted on starting it immediately.  The Chemo wasn't as effective this time but the disease hadn't spread.  He was scheduled for a Cyber Knife treatment to remove two of the cancerous nodes.  He thought he had beat it back into remission, only to find out he had four or five other nodes that they had not treated yet.  The doctor recommended that Byron try some of the newer studies out. 


After his last chemo treatment, he checked out his children from school and took a two week road trip with his family around spring break.  He wanted to do something with his family that they would remember and he wanted to spend some time with them.  We drove from Alabama to the crater in Arizona, upto the Grand Canyon,  and then Camped at Pueblo Resevoir for a few days 

The disease has now spread to his both lungs, his esophagus, his liver, his adrenal glands, and his gall bladder.  He is hoping to get approved for a stage 1 trial drug on Monday.  He has never given up the fight even after disappointing news time and time again.

He often says, that no matter when he sits in a chemo chair he feels the need to smile and bring cheer, because everytime he looks around he sees people worse than him, and he can't help but notice the empty chair...

He is determined to fight this disease so his youngest son who will turn 4 in May will remember who his father was, and allow me to quote him on this...when his doctor told him that his condition was terminal he told the doctor "Tell me something I don't know doctor, we are all born that way.  But you can't kill stubborn any more than you can fix stupid."  

That has been his attitude through out this fight. 


Hopefully, you will find it in your hearts to help this family out.  Help them get back on their feet and help them get their business back on track.  

The family is praying for a heart felt response.
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Organizer

Byron Johnson 
Organizer
Springville, AL
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