Doctor taking spiritual sabbatical to monastary in Nepal

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A local doctor is about to embark on an incredible journey, hoping to not only better himself, but improve the health of his patients battling cancer.

The oncologist thinks spending a month in a monastery will make all the difference.

When your phone rings or buzzes from a notification or a text, you probably reach right for it.

But some days, wouldn't it be nice to not have to worry about being connected 24-7?

"I'm so looking forward to that," says Dr. Peter Johnson, director of gynecologic oncology at Aurora BayCare Medical Center. "I'm so looking forward to it... being completely off the grid for awhile,"

You could say Dr. Johnson is taking that to a new level, but with his health, and his patient's health, in mind.

He leaves Saturday for Kathmandu, Nepal, where he will spend 30 days at the Kopan Monastery, a formal Tibetan Buddhist retreat.

"I want to build. I want to grow. I've always believed that improvement means change," says Dr. Johnson.

He spends most every day trying to calm anxious patients and completely redesigned the gynecological oncology area of the hospital to create a more tranquil and soothing atmosphere.

He's seen it make a difference with his patients and himself and thinks this spiritual sabbatical, with several hours a day of meditation, reflection and teachings, will give him more ways to find that peace for himself and those he cares for.

"I've always believed you have to take care of yourself. Then you can take care of other people even better, so all of this knowledge, yes, I want to use this out there with the other folks," he says.

While in Nepal, Dr. Johnson also plans to meet with doctors and tour the university hospital and medical school.

"They don't have a gynecologic oncologist there, so I want to look into what that means, how they are handling the cancers, look at volunteer opportunities for the future," he says.

He's due to arrive back in Wisconsin in late December -- rejuvenated and healthier.

"It'll help me. It'll help my colleagues. I'm a healer. I want to continue to heal and grow," adds Dr. Johnson.