Family overwhelmed by support

NANAIMO: Cory Johnson begins his road to recovery after undergoing surgery to remove a tumor near his spine.

Cory Johnson and Melissa

Cory Johnson and Melissa

Cory Johnson moved his right foot – a small gentle movement that was barely noticeable.

Yet, that small distance of movement was worth rejoicing for his family, who has learned to celebrate the little things.

Cory is starting to get more feeling in his stomach and in his right leg. It’s a small measure of progress that gives his wife, Melissa, hope.

Earlier this year doctors discovered a benign tumour growing inside Cory’s spinal cord. He underwent emergency surgery at Vancouver General Hospital to have the tumour removed, which left him paralyzed from the waist down.

The surgeons also had to leave about 10 per cent of the tumour alone.

The family needed to buy Cory a wheelchair, for about $6,000, and make about $30,000 worth of renovations to their home to make it wheelchair-accessible.

Melissa turned to the community for help and said she never expected the outpouring of support she received. Fundraisers for the family have raised about $20,000.

“It’s been fabulous – unexpected. It’s been lovely,” she said.

Melissa’s sentiments are shared by her husband.

“It’s awesome, unbelievable, how many people have come forward and helped out,” said Cory. “We’ve got a pretty good community.”

Cory returned home in August after spending time at the G.F. Strong rehabilitation centre, undergoing physiotherapy. He’ll need to go for an MRI about every six months to check on the tumour.

“He’s doing well, adjusting well and happy to be home,” said Melissa.

Cory, who was a tow truck driver, can’t return to work. He’s waiting to attend a driving course to learn how to use hand controls, but said with the long waiting list he’s been told a spot won’t be available until January.

Melissa said it’s been tough because now they are a one-income family and that Cory was recently turned down for disability. The family is looking at doing some more fundraising in a month or two.

Medical insurance only covered $1,000 for Cory’s $6,000 wheelchair. The family received $2,500 from the Serauxmen Service Club of Nanaimo toward the purchase.

Drew Seymour, a member of the Serauxmen, said it’s important to give back to the community, adding the club raises money and gives it to local individuals or organizations in need.

“It’s a rewarding experience to help someone who has had misfortune like Cory,” said Seymour.

People can donate to the Johnson family by dropping off bottles at the bottle depots and donating to the account under their name or making a donation on the family’s website, http://patrickcreery.com/wordpress/corysnewwheels.

The website will be updated with fundraising information as events are planned and people can also find more information on Facebook site www.facebook.com/corysnewwheels.johnson.

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