In April 2013, Robert Johnston will celebrate 50 years of marriage to his wife, Martha. He recognized the significance of the milestone, but doesn’t believe in only celebrating big events. Instead, the couple tries to enjoy every moment, whether it’s big or small.
Mr. Johnston also enjoys golfing, and can be found on the course any time the temperature is above 60 degrees. Almost six years ago, he was on the golf course with a physician friend when he coughed up some blood. While it was apparent that something was wrong, he had never been sick before. Fortunately, his friend knew about The Jones Clinic and Dr. C. Michael Jones’ distinguished cancer research history, and recommended that Mr. Johnston consider The Jones Clinic for his care.
Cancer was not a word that Mr. Johnston ever expected to hear in associate with his name. When he heard the diagnosis of non-small cell adenocarcinoma, his life was forever changed. He quit smoking and focused his attention on his health and treatment plan.
After a few visits to The Jones Clinic, it was clear he had found his care team. He really appreciated Dr. Jones and his staff’s personal approach to patient care. He remembers having a chemo treatment on a Friday and then getting a call late that evening. One of The Jones Clinic’s nurses said his blood work came back showing a low red blood cell count, and he needed to come to the Clinic on Saturday for a shot. Mr. Johnston felt terrible from the treatment and didn’t want to go to the Clinic for the shot. However, upon arriving to the Clinic and seeing the nurse in the empty office, he realized how much the team cared about him.
Mr. Johnston describes Dr. Jones’ approach as “aggressive”. The treatments included simultaneous chemotherapy and radiation. It took some time to get adjusted to the “new normal” – living with cancer without panic, accepting the fact that the cancer might reoccur, maintaining his lifelong positive attitude and trusting Dr. Jones and his staff for treatment recommendations. He never felt the level of pain and discomfort that some cancer patients experience, but was grateful to the staff for their support and for services such as the in-house pharmacy.
A few months later, Dr. Jones recommended that Mr. Johnston participate in a clinical trial that was available. The trial was Stimulating Targeted Antigenic Responses to Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC). To participate in the trial, he visited the clinic once a week for eight weeks to receive four shots at a time.
During the clinical trial visits, Mr. Johnston saw Lori Lynch, The Jones Clinic’s research manager, and Dr. Jones. Although the clinical trial was a blind study, he feels confident that he received the drug. He continues to see Lori and Dr. Jones every three months for check-ups.
Mr. Johnston was in remission in May 2011 when a new primary tumor was found in his lung. Following the CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System procedure recommended by Dr. Jones, the new tumor was reduced by 60 percent. He continues to have scans every six months. “Every day that I wake up and see my bedroom ceiling, I know it’s going to be a good day”, he said.
As he reflects on his journey, he is very grateful for The Jones Clinic and Dr. Jones. He remembers once telling Dr. Jones that he wasn’t ready to quit fighting, and believes he wouldn’t be celebrating an anniversary milestone next spring if it wasn’t for The Jones Clinic. He feels strongly that Dr. Jones and his team saved his life and encourages others to consider The Jones Clinic for its research, clinical trials and exceptional patient care.
For more information about The Jones Clinic’s current clinical trials, click here.