In March 2007, Rick Johnson began feeling an odd sensation in the back of his throat. He at first dismissed it as nothing serious, but after noticing some sort of mass on his tongue in the mirror, he quickly made an appointment with his doctor. Less than a month later, Rick and his family received an unexpected blow – he had tongue cancer – a very rare type, especially for non-smokers.
Because the mass on his tongue was growing rapidly, Ricks doctors immediately had him undergo a combination of radiation and chemotherapy for seven weeks. The biggest challenge, however, was the location of the cancer and its resulting side effects. The mass proved quite troublesome, requiring Rick to have a feeding tube and even a tracheotomy prior to his cancer treatments.
Today, Rick is cancer-free, and is now focusing on rebuilding his strength and stamina. He jokingly advises others that if they ever get sick, make sure theyre married first. He credits his wife, Tiffany, as being his greatest strength and inspiration during this difficult time. Also standing firm by his side were his two sons, Parker, age nine, and Seth, age six.
For his garden, Rick chose a bright swath of yellow flowers, symbolizing the Lance Armstrong “Live Strong" bracelet his son Parker wore even before he received his diagnosis. Also featured in his garden is a single decorative tree in honor of his mother, Patricia Waldon, who he lost to cervical cancer. Rick hopes his experience will help others realize that cancer is not the death sentence it once was. You can be diagnosed, receive treatments, and come out at the end cancer-free. After all, hes living proof.