As a North Carolina man recovers from his second double-lung transplant this week, his extended family in Lawrence helped support him and others fighting the same battle Friday night.
Bo Johnson, 36, who married Lawrence native and Kansas University graduate, Christi Johnson, received a stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis in May 2006.
He underwent a double-lung transplant at the end of May 2008. The lungs immediately started swelling. Four days later, he was put on a list for another transplant and was fortunate to be the recipient of a second set of lungs.
He is in recovery at the intensive care unit of Duke University Medical Center with Christi and their 2-year-old daughter, Addi.
Back in her hometown, Christi's family was host to a Hawaiian-themed benefit to raise money for Addi's Cure, a nonprofit started by Bo and Christi to raise money for lung cancer research.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. according to lungcancer.org, a program of Cancer Center, a national nonprofit organization.
The diagnosis came as a complete shock not only to Bo, a healthy man and lifelong nonsmoker, but also his family.
With a determination to beat the cancer and live to see his daughter turn 1, he pushed on with his family's encouragement.
The cancer had regressed and stayed contained in Bo's lungs.
"When he found out he had cancer, there was just no knowledge, no funding, nothing for it, so he decided he wanted to do something," said Terri Morgan, Christi's mother, who lives in Lawrence. "If it didn't help him, he wanted to be able to help someone else."
One of Christi's sisters, Crystal Dodds, 28, also had extra motivation to support lung cancer research and education. A year ago, her father-in-law died six weeks after receiving a lung cancer diagnosis.
Terri said the whole family had been strengthened by Bo's fight, even Addi, one of Bo's biggest inspirations.
As Bo works on his strength, walking the halls of the hospital, Terri said Addi cheered him on, encouraging him to keep going.
"Bo is an extremely strong young man; so is Christi," she said. "What they've been through in the past six, seven weeks now, it is just amazing how strong, how determined, the young man is and what his will is to live."
She said she expected Bo to be released from ICU next week, and he will continue his recovery with his family in North Carolina.