Medical Student Becomes Patient

Medical Student Becomes Patient

Anonymous donor helps bring home TTUHSC graduate and terminal cancer patient.

Written by Suzanna Cisneros

Gaines graduated from the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.

Gaines graduated from the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.

For most medical students, Match Day is one of excitement and anticipation of what the future holds. A week after 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 was recently 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 were 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 on July 16 for treatment with Everardo Cobos, M.D., director of the School of Medicine’s Hematology/Oncology Division, 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.

Michelle Gaines talks about her brother-in-law

“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.”

President Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D., said the TTUHSC’s 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.

Gaines flew home to Lubbock on July 16.

Gaines flew home to Lubbock on July 16.

“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,” Mitchell added. “We are grateful for Texas Tech alumni helping each other.”

Joshua Gaines earned his Master’s Degree in political science at Texas Tech before returning to school to continue his education in medicine. He attended medical school at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.

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.”


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