Fundraiser to benefit Sedley cancer patient

Published 10:29 am Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sedley resident Johnnie “John Boy” Walton had never needed to go to the doctor for an illness in the 35 years he had been married to his wife, Sue, but on Aug. 26, 2016, he decided to go. He had been feeling out of sorts and had developed visible swelling on the right side of his neck, which Sue brought to the attention of Johnnie’s doctor during his appointment.

After over a month of tests at various medical facilities throughout the Tidewater area, including blood work, a CAT scan, two fine needle aspiration biopsies, and a visit to an ear, nose and throat specialist in Franklin, the Waltons finally received some answers from another ENT specialist at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital on Oct. 13.

Dr. Daniel Karakla, the ENT specialist at Sentara Norfolk, informed the Waltons that Johnnie had stage four base tongue-throat cancer that had spread to his lymph node, also known as squamous cell carcinoma, after reviewing the results of Johnnie’s latest test — an endoscopic biopsy. The couple was shocked, especially considering that Johnnie had never smoked.

Now, after seven weeks of chemotherapy twice per week and radiation treatments five days per week, also for seven weeks, Sue said that Johnnie has been left with no taste and is just slowly starting to eat. She also received some more bad news on Monday when Dr. Karakla informed her that Johnnie’s lymph node was still swollen.

“We have to wait three weeks for a PET scan because the radiation will create a false positive right now,” Sue said.

Now, in addition to dealing with the stress of the repeated trips back and fourth to Norfolk for treatments, the Waltons are also struggling to keep up with the financial burden of cancer.

“The bills have mounted up; I pay what I can pay,” she said. “Some of the other bills are in the thousands. Working people like us just don’t have that money set aside. I’ve missed quite a bit of work and he has too, and he still has a ways to go. The healing process will be six to eight months or longer.”

Johnnie works for C.W. Moore and Sons Logging in Courtland, and Sue works for Care Advantage, a Franklin-based home health care agency.

To help offset some of the family’s costs, some of Johnnie’s friends have banded together to organize a fundraiser barbecue dinner and bingo night, which will be held at the Greensville Ruritan Club in Emporia on Saturday, Feb. 4.

Dinner, a raffle and bingo will be held from 3 to 6:30 p.m. with a dance and live music by The Reunion Band from 7 to 9 p.m.

The meal will include barbecue chicken, cole slaw, green beans and potatoes, with rolls, a dessert, drink and one bingo card included with the ticket price of $15. Additional bingo cards will be available for purchase at the event.

“God bless these people for having this fundraiser,” Sue said. “When you have a debilitating disease, its not only debilitating to your health, it’s debilitating to your finances.”

According to Lucky Streich, a friend of Johnnie’s who is coordinating the fundraiser, the reason they chose to host the event at the Ruritan club in Emporia rather than in Sedley where the Waltons live is because the Ruritans offered the use of their Emporia facility free of charge.

The event will also include a raffle, with tickets available for $20, and prizes including a 12-gauge automatic shotgun, gas grill, $200 Walmart gift card, and $100 cash. The prizes were donated by Johnnie’s friends who are coordinating the event.

A drawing will be held during the fundraiser, but raffle ticket purchasers need not be present to win. Raffle tickets can be purchased from Kimie Thrower by calling 434-594-1291 or Lucky Streich by calling 403-4616.