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Former Summit County firefighter makes great strides in cancer battle

JULIE SUTOR
summit daily news

FRISCO – On a given sunny morning in Frisco’s South End Village, it’s not unusual to see a smiling Todd “T.J.” Johnson returning from a bike ride, playing with his dog Buddy or shooting hoops in the driveway. The good-humored former Red White and Blue firefighter seems the picture of health as he chats with neighbors and soaks up some rays.

Johnson’s high spirits and physical vigor are fairly remarkable, given that doctors informed him less than two years ago that he had a brain tumor.

“I’m still in the treatment phase, but life is good – I’m feeling healthy and feeling strong,” Johnson said.

The first clue that something was wrong came when Johnson suffered a seizure while playing a softball game in the summer of 2008. After receiving his diagnosis, the community rallied around him, offering financial and emotional help.

Johnson underwent surgery, which resulted in paralysis of his left arm and left leg. Through months of rehab, he regained full function and about 95 percent of his prior strength. He went to Chicago for chemotherapy, and then returned to Summit County in January 2009. The following September, he received radiation treatment at Shaw Cancer Center in Edwards.

“From all the treatment, I went from having one seizure every month to only having one seizure in the last nine months,” he said.

The tumor isn’t going anywhere, but Johnson’s doctors hope they can prevent it from growing or causing additional seizures.

“The future is wide open. I’ve been able to enjoy everything I used to do: softball, mountain biking, dirt biking. I want to give a very special thanks to Scott, Tanga and Sienna Sussman, and my family at the Red White and Blue firehouse. It’s through their support that I’m in such a good place,” Johnson said.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or

jsutor@summitdaily.com.


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