Community comes together to help fisherman battle cancer

Commentary By Johnathan Platt

For The Cordova Times

2016 turned out to be quite the test of resolve, as both a fisherman and a person. It would seem that in this instance, my wellbeing, both financial and bodily, were somehow intrinsically tied to the salmon runs. Not to drag on through the particulars, but countless tests, biopsies, operations, and multiple rounds of chemotherapy later, 2016 has come and gone, and 2017 has taken its stead. It’s been a long and arduous journey, one that has robbed me of both my mind and body on more than one occasion, but nonetheless a journey that has helped me to see what is truly important in life – The kindness of others and the power of community.

I suppose I should preface this by saying I’m Johnathan Platt, I’ve been a Cordovan for as long as I can remember. My family’s roots are as embedded in the soil here as can be helped, and it was in pursuit of the familial tradition that I found myself at the start of my current situation – staving off and hopefully beating Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

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As it were, I’m somewhat at a loss to explain the whole of my story; the side effects of the very drugs used to prolong my life have a tendency to leave pock marks in the memory. What I do know for certain is that I went from coughing up blood daily on the seine boat to a tapestry of tubes and needles in an emergency room in Anchorage, then Seattle. It’s a peculiar feeling when you become lucid enough to make sense of the words on the door of your latest home – “Oncology” – and the pleasantly detached voice of the oncologist confirms your fears through the haze of a morphine drip. Although I do not remember much else from my tenure in Anchorage, I do recall how clear my priorities in life laid themselves out. Anything and everything material went out the window, I just wanted to see my family and friends. To let them know (while I was still able to) how much I loved them and that the small stuff really doesn’t matter in the bigger picture.

I was eventually moved down to Seattle to continue treatment, and after my first round of chemotherapy, a PET scan was performed to gauge how the tumors quickly manifesting in both my lungs were responding. They weren’t. At least, not to satisfaction, and I was subsequently put on a far more aggressive treatment of daily chemotherapy. It was around this time that April Beedle and my younger brother, Blake Platt, created their respective crowdsourced funding projects on my behalf. I should note that I was unaware of either, and due to my upbringing was very apprehensive about both upon finding out, as I’ve always been of the mind to pay it forward. However, learning of the donations coming across the entire community each day while receiving my treatment is and was one the most humbling experiences of my life. I’m not particularly emotional, but hearing everyone’s name being read off was overwhelming, in both scope and in some cases, unexpectedness. I can say with certainty that in the darkest days, when life had me grasping for hair that since fallen out, having that sense of support in the back of my mind helped more than anything.

As the treatment progressed, I was allowed reprieve in Cordova for a short while to let my body recover from the constant bombardment of toxic chemicals before taking another PET scan on the 2nd of March. This scan essentially determines if I’m to be living in Cordova or a hospital bed for foreseeable future. With that in mind, really, with all that’s been said in mind, I want to make it known to everyone in Cordova and abroad who sent either money or a kind word my way that I cannot even begin to express my gratitude, or how important that morale support is to me. I wish I could repay in kind these gifts – sentimental and otherwise, and perhaps with an optimistic prognosis, I might just be given the time to.

Here’s to good news, a good season, and a good year.