Nanaimo couple seeks support from community

Nanaimo man adapting to life in a wheelchair after medical condition leaves him paralyzed

Melissa and Cory Johnson don’t dwell on the past.

Their focus is on the future and providing Cory with the equipment he needs to help live with paralyzing spinal cord damage.

“He’s in good spirits,” Melissa said. “He knows he’s got a lot of support around him.”

Around Christmas time last year, Cory started to feel discomfort in his back and knees. Melissa noticed a difference in his gait.

“He said it felt like his left knee was backwards,” Melissa said.

They talked to their doctor, who thought it could be Multiple Sclerosis, and ordered an MRI, which Cory had in February. A few days later, he saw a neurologist, who diagnosed the problem.

“[The doctor said] it’s good news – it’s not MS,” Melissa said. “It is a tumour growing inside his spinal cord.”

The tumour was about half an inch wide and about three inches long. Cory was referred to Vancouver General Hospital for surgery about four to six weeks later.

“It was pressing all of the nerves,” Melissa said.

But during the waiting period, Cory’s health took a turn for the worse – he woke up one morning with his legs shaking and unable to hold his own weight.

After going straight to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, Cory was immediately transferred to Vancouver. That was Sunday – by Tuesday morning, he was unable to wiggle his toes.

Emergency surgery saw most of the tumour removed, but left Cory paralyzed from the waist down.

He spent 23 days in the spinal unit at Vancouver General before transfer to G.F. Strong rehabilitation centre, where he still is undergoing physiotherapy and learning to live in a wheelchair.

The tumour was benign, meaning that chemotherapy isn’t needed. But the costs for Cory to adapt to his new life are mounting and the family is turning to the community for help.

A beer and burger fundraiser is scheduled for Sunday (July 29), 4-9 p.m., at Pipers Pub on Hammond Bay Road.

Medical insurance only pays a small part of the $6,000 cost of a new wheelchair and doesn’t cover the estimated $30,000 cost to make their home wheelchair-accessible.

Cory, who can’t return to his job as a tow-truck driver, also needs to attend a driving course that teaches him to use hand controls.

Melissa is working and caring for their son during the week and visiting her husband on weekends in Vancouver.He’s scheduled for discharge from G.F. Strong in early August.

“We don’t like to dwell on the past,” Melissa said. “What’s happened has happened.”

Tickets to the beer and burger fundraiser are $15 and available from Desire Tattoo, 1925 Bowen Rd.

Just Posted

Letter writer suggests ways residents and the municipality can address the problem of litter along the highway. (Stock photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Don’t add to litter problem

Letter writer who picks up litter along Parkway Trail implores Nanaimo to be tidier

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman who was killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

The B.C. Ministry of Education has announced close to $44 million for the province’s schools for COVID-19 recovery. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school stakeholders say COVID-19 recovery funding can make a difference

B.C. Ministry of Education announces it expects a ‘near-normal’ return to class in September

Nanaimo artist Melissa Anderson has paintings on display at White Rabbit Coffee Co. for the next month. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo painter showcases coastal Island views in first exhibit in two years

Melissa Anderson presents ‘Seascapes’ oil painting exhibit at White Rabbit Coffee Co.

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of June 6-12. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
New COVID-19 cases up on Island, but health officials say trends going right way

There were 22 new COVID-19 cases in Greater Victoria last week after just four the week before

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. More than 100 prominent Canadians, have signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C. (Submitted)
Brian Mulroney and Greta Thunberg among 100 celebrities pushing to save B.C. old growth

List includes Indigenous leaders, scientists, authors, Oscar winners

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Himalayan Life helped finance the construction of Nepal’s Yangri Academic Centre and dormitories after a 2015 earthquake devastated the valley, killing more than 9,000 people. (Screen grab/Peter Schaeublin)
B.C. charity founder pledges to rebuild Nepalese school swept away by flash floods

Six years after an earthquake killed more than 9,000 people, Nepal faces another catastrophy

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

Most Read