Just out of medical school, Joshua Gaines had big plans; but, a cancer diagnosis changed everything.
Gaines earned his masters degree in political science from Texas Tech. After that, he decided to go into medicine and attended the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center in El Paso.
In February of last year, he earned the title Dr. Joshua Gaines and learned that he'd go into his residency at the Cleveland Clinic. That was his first choice, and he was on his way to pursue his passion.
"He had all these plans, and he wanted to make a difference, make an impact, and help heal people as a physician," Gaines sister-in-law Michelle Gaines said.
A week later, while visiting his mother in Midland, Josh went to the emergency room. He'd experienced abdominal pain in the past, but this was more severe. That's when Josh learned he had metastic colorectal cancer.
Going through medical school, he knew this was bad. The median survival time is just 29 months.
"It's been hard for him to accept that, and it's been hard for the family to have to see his dreams shattered," Michelle said.
So instead of the Cleveland Clinic, during the past year and a half, Josh has waged a fierce battle against the cancer, undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical treatments at MD Anderson in Houston.
But, he recently he learned his liver was also failing. His battle was ending.
"He has handled it like a master. I mean, he's just been so strong and brave. The whole time, thinking of others and how what was happening was impacting us rather than how it was impacting him," Michelle said.
Josh wanted to spend his final days with family in West Texas. But, his condition made travel by ground impossible, and he could not fly commercially.
Family reached out for help, sharing Josh's story online. It was an anonymous Texas Tech donor who made the trip possible.
Josh arrived by private plane at the Lubbock airport late Wednesday night. An ambulance met the plane on the tarmac and rushed him to UMC.
"We are so thankful; we can never say thank you enough. I'm just so amazed at how the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center family has come together to help one of their own in this situation," Michelle said.
The family hoped to see Josh celebrate his 32nd birthday on August 2. Sadly, he passed away Thursday morning, surrounded by family and friends as he had hoped.
But, his passion for medicine is not ending. Dr. Gaines made it known that he wants to donate his body to science, with the hope that further research could lead to more advanced cancer treatment.
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