Josh faces life with a smile, making every moment count

I first met him at church two years ago, and there was an instant connection unusual for a 14-year-old. Active, inquisitive, talkative and something else about him made it easy to share our love. He soon adopted me as Grandpa. I'm going to miss Josh.

Joshua May, my friend, has neurofibromataosis and spindle cell sarcoma. In April 2001, my wife and I took Josh and his mom to the hospital at the University of California, San Francisco. Surgery was performed to clean up after the removal of a thumb-size tumor from his left palm and he was sent home to face a 30-day regimen of radiation treatments.

The doctors were wrong because the radiation made the cancer grow faster. Josh lost his forearm last November. I'm going to miss Josh.

He was excited to get his prosthesis. The first Sunday he had it, he ran up to me in the church parking lot and shook my hand like a proper gentleman. After squeezing my hand hard, Josh suddenly pulled his arm out, leaving me holding this prosthesis. He laughed continuously as I stood there unable to get out of his new hand. Josh showed everyone his prosthesis, and the little kids were especially interested. Josh always takes time for the little kids, telling them Bible stories and making sure they get their fair share of after-church cookies. I'm going to miss Josh.

Josh and his parents travel back and forth between Salt Lake City every few weeks for treatment. The doctors speculate that Josh has a few months, maybe a year. He will undergo a six-week treatment regimen next January, if he is still strong enough.

Josh and his mom have to remain in Salt Lake City for the entire time. His dad will only be able to visit a few times because he can't miss too much work. The treatment is expected to give him a few more months, and while he will be quite miserable, Josh wants to go through it. I'm going to miss Josh.

One night, after watching a video with the family, Josh jumped up and stated that he would like to give two thumbs up to that movie, but he guessed that instead, a stump and a thumb would have to do. He's always like that, seeing the funny side of life, even knowing what the future holds. His courage and cheer are contagious. I'm going to miss Josh.

Barb and Rob Fleming, Josh's parents, are naturally having a difficult time. They work hard every day, but there just isn't enough time or money to do all they need or want to do. Make-A-Wish, the Lahontan Medical Clinic, El Aero Services, friends and neighbors are all trying to help as much as they can.

Josh recently had his first horseback ride, first helicopter ride and received the Playstation 2 he wanted for his 16th birthday. Doctor bills and the travel expenses are piling up.

Rob has had to miss a lot of work to be with Josh during trips for tests and further surgeries. His co-workers at the Nevada State Prison have been generous in donating some of their sick time to Rob. Barb is not working so she can home school Josh. I'm going to miss Josh.

Some of Josh's friends set up an account at Nevada State Bank, account 0530026657, because people were asking how they could help. Others have offered to do fun things for Josh or help with gas money for his trips to Salt Lake City.

When I told Josh I was going to write an article for the media, Josh told me to tell everybody thanks ahead of time. Josh asked if I could help him write thank you notes, bragging that he was getting really good at writing with his right hand. If you would like to help, call (775) 629-0511, or make a donation.

Time is short and precious; Josh is making every moment count. I'm really going to miss Josh.

Paul Churchill works for Micro Manipulators Co. in Carson City. He is Josh May's "adopted grandfather."


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