INVENTION OF NECESSITY
It’s not too often that wonderful things stem from a cancer diagnosis, but such is the case for Rich Johnson and his family, Patricia, Keith and Victoria Johnson.
Richard Johnson’s 2008 esophageal cancer diagnosis was life altering – but not solely for this Lawrenceville, NJ resident. At the time of his surgery only a handful of other patients around the country had undergon this lalparoscopic procedure and Rich was the first at Fox Chase Cancer.
The odds were grim for Richard. Approximately 16,000 people are diagnosed with this disease each year – 14,000 of whom never recover. Once diagnosed, Richard headed to Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, where he underwent approximately 12 weeks of chemotherapy and radiation followed by a cutting-edge surgery. Only a handful of other patients around the country had undergone this laparoscopic procedure.
If enduring the chemotherapy and an uncommon surgery wasn’t enough, Richard, an avid golfer and volunteer firefighter had to suffer through what he considered a much stiffer penalty.
Unable to eat as a result of his surgery, most days Richard was confined to his home, tethered to a feeding device – a sometimes permanent condition, depending on a patient’s recovery.
“You don’t realize how much that will affect your life, so much of what we do in life is based on eating and he was out of that loop. We couldn’t go anywhere, he had to be home feeding 12 hours a day.”
Much to their relief, the pair discovered a backpack that could hold Richard’s feeding equipment. However, after only one outing, this cancer survivor found that the bulky accessory was temperamental, inconvenient and didn’t accommodate activities like golfing and driving.
“If I knew I was going to feel this way after the operation, I would have never moved forward. I felt like I was locked in my house.”
Watching her helpless husband grow more depressed by the day, Pat, a renowned seamstress in her own right, sprang into action – needle in hand. Patricia sewed a bag out of spare materials one evening. That bag became the prototype to the Nutra2Go system.
“The next day I could play nine holes of golf for the first time in months. From that day forward, I knew that other patients would benefit from this product. The mobility and ease of use provided by Nutra2Go are not just a convenience; they are, I believe, a literal life-saver. As a patient who has had to use a feeding pump myself, I know how discouraging it can be when confined to the home for feeding. The Nutra2Go system has allowed me to lead a much fuller life.”
When the physicians at Fox Chase got wind of the Nutra2Go system, they too encouraged the Johnson’s to share their creation with the world. It then dawned on the couple that other patients stricken with various medical conditions such as organ system failure, neurological conditions, oncologic diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, and hypermetabolism., could regain a life in motion through this handy invention.
It was only after receiving a patent that the Johnson’s realized the needed partners to invest in the product. They didn’t have to look far, as their son, Keith Johnson and, Keith’s father-in-law, John Agos quickly jumped on board. Shortly thereafter, the family business, Nutra2Go, was formed.