East Texas veteran with terminal cancer fighting for family, other vets

East Texas veteran with terminal cancer fighting for family, other vets
Josh Johnson (Source: KLTV News Staff)
Josh Johnson (Source: KLTV News Staff)
Josh Johnson (Source: KLTV News Staff)
Josh Johnson (Source: KLTV News Staff)
Josh Johnson and family (Source: Facebook)
Josh Johnson and family (Source: Facebook)

ATHENS, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas Purple Heart recipient is turning his personal fight with cancer into a mission, to shine a light on the challenges facing veterans.

In November, Navy Veteran Joshua Johnson, who served from 2006 to 2010 in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, was told he had six months to live after his rare form of cancer, which is inoperable and incurable, progressed.

Johnson tells us that he's not going to let the diagnosis stop him from pushing on for veterans and his family.

"I want a few more years to see my kids grow a little bit more and just...I haven't quit fighting," says Johnson.

Johnson is in a battle, and he's been told when it's going to end.

"The doctors can say whatever they want, but just like being over in combat, I'm just approaching cancer the same way that I approach the enemy; the only difference is, I can't see who I'm fighting," says Johnson.

Johnson was honored by the United States congress where they explained rarity of his cancer.

"Stage 4, Fibrolamellar Carcinoma, which is a rare liver cancer that only affects 200 people world-wide," says Johnson.

It has spread to his lungs, and elsewhere, and he's taking a seemingly endless cocktail of drugs.

"You know, this is kind of what having cancer is all about. It's all about taking a bunch of medicine and just praying, and going through hell. I'm going through hell right now," says Johnson.

He says his situation wasn't helped by a VA system that could do more for the men and women who've served.

"When you go to the VA, it's just like Walmart. You rush in, you rush out, you get what you get for the cheapest dollar. It's a packed house. People go to the VA to die, and it's not right," says Johnson.

While the VA is paying for his cancer treatment, Johnson wants people to understand that when vets face health issues, other bills will pile up too.

"We don't even have the funds to bury me," says Johnson.

It's a scenario that may seem hopeless to some, but one he's using as a teaching moment with the time he has left.

"I've got my eyes set on that six months and when I pass that six months, then I've accomplished my next fight," says Johnson.

If you'd like to help the Johnson family, click here.

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