Sandy Johnson was still grieving the loss of her mother when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She had found a lump on her left breast while holidaying in South Africa in May 2009, but delayed her mammogram after tragically losing her mother to Influenza two days after arriving home.
Ms Johnson had the mammogram later that month and was advised that the results were abnormal. She then underwent a repeat mammogram and a breast ultrasound with a punch biopsy.
On June 24, 2009, Ms Johnson was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Being a nurse and learning about my breast cancer was shocking news. I kept calm until I was walking back to my car, then I cried,” she said.
“At the time I had a young family. I was fearful of losing my life and leaving them behind.”
Ms Johnson underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy and six weeks of radiotherapy which left her with severe burns to the left sides of her chest wall and neck.
But even though her cancer journey was far from easy, Ms Johnson found strength in her family and friends.
“The enormous support from my husband and three children helped keep me positive about my survival. I also received huge support from numerous friends and my church,” she said.
“Breast cancer is a challenging journey, where at times you would want to crawl into a corner, but with accepting support that is offered and speaking to people who have been through that journey, it makes the journey easier.”
Ms Johnson said she hopes that cancer research will find less harsh cancer treatments and continue to save the lives of all those who are affected by cancer so that they, like her, can enjoy life after a cancer diagnosis.
“When I look back at 2009, I wouldn’t want to go through that experience again. But I also realise how strong I am to have survived,” she said.
“Eleven years on and cancer-free, I look at life differently and embrace the gift of living.”
This August, Australians are being encouraged to donate a daffodil during Cancer Council’s Daffodil Day Appeal to raise funds for life-saving cancer research. Money raised will help fund some of the brightest researchers in the country who are dedicated to discovering the next cancer breakthroughs.
Donate a daffodil online at daffodilday.com.au.