Waconia Relay’s ‘Caregiver of the Year’ honors wife’s memory

What used to be ‘we’ is now ‘he.’

Dan Johnston is the ‘he’ who supports the Johnston family. He provides counsel to his teenage daughters and 10-year old son. He thoughtfully plans the family vacations. He is the one who honors his wife Carlene’s memory by being the best version of ‘he’ because the ‘we’ is no longer.

Dan Johnston will be the 2017 Honorary Caregiver at Relay for Life of Waconia.

Dan and Carlene began dating in September of 2000. Two months later, they were planning their wedding. You see, they were always meant to be ‘we.’ Together they have Raina (15), Neva (14) and Aidan (10) – three children who embody the best of both Dan and Carlene.

In early 2012, Carlene was diagnosed with breast cancer. Initially, doctors didn’t assign it a stage – it was barely in her lymph nodes, they had caught it early, and her prognosis was good. After a double mastectomy and genetic testing, however, the bad news was delivered: Carlene had a BRCA2 mutation, and suddenly her prognosis was not so good. Within a year of her initial diagnosis her cancer had returned, much more aggressively than the first time. And so it began: Traveling and searching and experimenting with all sorts of treatments that would stop the cancer.

In early November 2016, almost five years after her diagnosis, Carlene and Dan learned that she had advanced ascites –indicating that her liver was in the final stages of failure. There was nothing left to do; Carlene had only weeks to live. On November 17, 2016, Carlene went to heaven.

Continue reading this Sun Patriot story. 


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