Local man celebrates his last breast cancer treatment - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Local man celebrates his last breast cancer treatment

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By Victoria Hansen

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Ask Raymond Johnson how long it's been since his battle began and he'll tell you six months.

"Yeah, it really feels like six months, a long six months."

Actually, it's been a year.

"This is a blessing for me, it really is."

Raymond was just 26 when he was diagnosed with a disease most often associated with women -- breast cancer.  As if that wasn't enough, he didn't have health insurance.  He applied for a federal program for breast cancer patients, but was denied because he is not a woman.  His story made national news and within weeks an exception was made.

That was August 2011.

He has since endured months of chemotherapy and even underwent a mastectomy.  Now it's time to get his final treatment.

"Where is he?" said Susan Appelbaum.  She is the nurse navigator at the Charleston Cancer Center.  She has been with Raymond since the beginning.

Wednesday she planned a big surprise.  So big, it's hard to hide.

But it certainly catches Raymond's eye as walks up to the center to cheering and applause.

"We wanted to do something special for you.  You're a special person," said Appelbaum.

The bright, pink fire truck is covered with signatures in memory of those lost and those who have survived breast cancer.  Raymond flashes a smile as he quickly takes a pen to the pain and writes, "survivor".

"Thank you, thank you all very much.  I wouldn't have made it without y'all."

Raymond heads inside for a final check up with his doctor.  But there's one more stop to make before he heads off for that last cancer treatment.

"They told me a lot about you," said Latisha Chong.  At 23, she was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  

She clutches a tissue as tears streak her young face.  Raymond talks softly about what got him through.

"You've got to stay positive," he said.  "You have to smile."

As the two part ways, Latisha smiles.  Raymond, meantime, climbs into that big, pink fire truck.  It is his personal ride to the hospital, just down the street.

But he's not just thinking about himself.

"I have faith in her I hope that my little talk that I had with her today encouraged her a little more,"  said Raymond.

"Like I told her, anytime she needs to talk or anything like that she can just call me and I can encourage her for that day."

One day at a time is how Raymond has done it -- 365 days, one at a time.

  • Victoria Hansen

    Email: vhansen@abcnews4.com Reporter Profile

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