For most medical students, Match Day is one of excitement and anticipation of what the future holds. A week after Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) Paul L. Foster School of Medicine medical student Joshua Gaines learned he matched with his first choice at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation for anesthesiology, he was diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer.
Gaines asked, “Where am I supposed to fit the remainder of my medical education if I probably won’t survive to see the end of it?”
When diagnosed at age 30 on March 21, 2013, his cancer was Stage IV and terminal. Joshua now has been told he may live a few more weeks but there is nothing else that can be done to fight the cancer that has invaded his vital organs.
His last wishes are to spend his remaining days with his family. An anonymous Texas Tech donor offered to pay private plane expenses to help Gaines get back from Houston to Lubbock for treatment with Everardo Cobos, M.D., a TTUHSC oncologist, who Gaines’ family said has been there with him every step of the way.
“He has been wonderfully caring and compassionate, and we cannot imagine a better care provider for Joshua to keep him comfortable in his remaining time,” said Michelle Gaines, Joshua’s sister-in-law.
Joshua Gaines and his family arrived in Lubbock on July 16.
“We want to thank everyone so much for their generosity,” Michelle Gaines said. “We are truly astounded by the outpouring of support for Joshua and it is so comforting to him in his final hours to know that he will be coming home and his private air expenses will be taken care of. Thanks to you all Joshua will be able to pass with his family surrounding him holding his hand and telling him how much we love him.”
TTUHSC President Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D., said the TTUHSC hearts and prayers go out to Gaines and his family.
“Our TTUHSC medical school graduate and his family are faced with an unimaginable struggle,” Mitchell said. “Joshua dedicated himself to health care and is a role model in how he has dealt with his cancer struggle. As one of ours is going through the toughest of times, we are reminded every day, that no matter what life brings, there are amazing folks walking among us. We are grateful for Texas Tech alumni helping each other.”
Joshua Gaines earned his Master’s Degree in political science at Texas Tech University before returning to school to continue his education in medicine. He attended medical school at the TTUHSC Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in El Paso. He wrote an inspiring article, “The Patient-Student: An unexpected lesson challenges everything about a future physician’s training and career,” which was published in the Oct. 2013 New Physician.
Michelle Gaines said Joshua’s love, caring, support and advice, even during the most difficult time in his life, has been invaluable to his family.
“He has made more of a difference than he will ever know and appreciate,” Michelle Gaines said. “He will be sorely missed but he will live on in the hearts of his family and friends and those whom his story has touched and inspired. He has committed to donate his body to science. He would love for his body to continue to be of service to others and contribute to the education of others even after he passes.”
STATEMENT FROM THE GAINES FAMILY
Josh passed away at 11:58 a.m. (CST) today (July 17) at University Medical Center of Lubbock. He was surrounded by his loving family and friends. Thanks to the anonymous donor, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Dr. Everardo Cobos, Sheree Martinez, and the rest of the staff at the Southwest Cancer Center, all of the prayers and support of the fantastic West Texas community and numerous kind hearted supporters around the world. We cannot thank them all enough for what they have given Josh and our family.