Editor's Note: After press time, we learned with great sadness of Chris Johnson's passing. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends, who continue the fight against renal cell carcinoma in his memory.
Since 2011, Chris Johnson has approached his diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma with one thought in mind: Fight with faith.
When his back pain first started, Johnson thought it was from an old football injury from his running back days at the University of New Mexico. A CT scan revealed a mass, however, and his right kidney was removed.
During treatments at MD Anderson, Johnson noticed a lack of advocacy for renal cell carcinoma. Earlier this year he established the CJ Foundation and started selling baseball caps to pay for his medical bills and create awareness for kidney cancer.
In the future, Johnson hopes to raise enough money for research at MD Anderson.
“While waiting for my appointments, I would see a lot of ladies wearing hats for other cancers,” says Johnson, of Sugar Land, near Houston. “I didn’t see anyone wearing one for the type I have, or a lot of men wearing them. So I wanted to create awareness.”
A friend helped him come up with the logo of an intertwining “C” and “J” for the front of the $26 caps. Johnson’s motto, “fighting with faith,” is emblazoned on the back.
Johnson says the caps are so popular that he can hardly keep up with the demand.
“They sell out quickly because my mom takes them to church, and I promote them through my Facebook page,” he says.
Johnson says getting a foundation off the ground has been a challenge, especially with his current chemotherapy schedule. But he’s determined to help fund research for a cure.
“It’s tough to get things started on your own, but I take it day by day,” he says. “When I look at the caps, it’s something to help keep me going.”