Overcoming the odds to beat cancer

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Innisfail woman remains positive after breast cancer diagnosis

INNISFAIL – Don’t give up in the fight against cancer.

That’s a message Ella Johnson wants people to hear.

“I think the biggest thing is that people need to know that we can survive cancer,” said Johnson. “I wish to help women know you can win this. You can beat it,” said Johnson.

The 53-year-old Innisfail resident is a breast cancer survivor.

She was diagnosed in June 2016 with Stage 3 breast cancer and had a double mastectomy a few weeks later at the end of August. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments soon followed.

“I had no time to think. My generation believes that cancer is death,” said Johnson. “I was just floored. It was at Stage 3, and Stage 4 is usually palliative. It was very, very scary.”

Despite having regular mammograms starting at age 40, the cancer diagnosis caught Johnson and her family off guard. Without realizing it, Johnson had the cancer for about nine months before the diagnosis.

“I was just wowed. How could this happen,” she said, noting family members, including her mother, brother and sister, were just as devastated.

Family and friends rallied around Johnson to support her.

“My mother and my sister were fabulous and they were here all the time,” she said. “Erin (my sister) really helped me. She spent a lot of time with me and ran to appointments. She was really my home nurse.

“Until you get sick, you don’t know how many people care,” Johnson added. “I was really moved by how special (that support) was.”

It was that love and support that helped Johnson get through her darkest days and gave her the strength to fight back against cancer.

“I am a survivor. I can’t see cancer taking me. I just won’t let it,” said Johnson.

Today, she has returned to work and has continued on with her life, albeit with a fresh, new perspective.

“I believe I’m cancer free. I believe it went in the garbage with my breasts,” said Johnson. “At the end of the day the biggest thing is that we are very blessed in life and we should be thankful for what we have,” she added.

A good attitude and positive outlook are important when it comes to beating cancer, said Johnson, adding women need to stay one step ahead in the fight against breast cancer.

“Early detection is key,” explained Johnson. “Take care of your own health. It’s really up to you to do it.”

Although it’s been a long and often difficult journey for Johnson, she remains positive and welcomes each day with a grateful heart.

“There’s lots of hope.”

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Kristine Jean

Kristine Jean is a reporter with the Innisfail Province, joining the newspaper in 2015. She covers Penhold municipal politics, news and community events as well as sports in and around the town as well as in Innisfail.