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Heptner Cancer Center Director Leigh Johnson Shares Her Story

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Heptner Cancer Center Director Leigh Johnson Shares Her Story

Eight years ago my life changed forever when I was diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer at the age of 37. As a single mom raising 2 very busy young boys, all I could think about was fighting for them. Regular self breast exams saved my life as I found the lump myself, my mammogram 7 months prior was normal. I urge women to do their monthly breast self exams and get their mammograms. Had I not been in the routine of doing this, I wouldn't have known what was normal for my own breast tissue and what wasn't. Working in the Oncology field for the past 23 years has taught me that cancer doesn't care who you are-young, old, single mom, etc. It rears its ugly head and when it did with me, I was ready to fight. I told my boys, "We Got this''....and that is exactly what we did! After the biopsy confirmed the diagnosis, I quickly started 4 months of chemotherapy, surgery and 6 weeks of radiation therapy.

I am proud to be standing among all the survivors that fight cancer. Everyone's journey is different, but at the end of the day, everyone needs a team! Not only a team of Oncology specialists to help physically fight the disease, but a team of support at home emotionally and mentally. I was blessed to have amazing friends and family that stepped in to help me and my boys. From bringing us meals to bringing me my favorite drinks during chemotherapy. No one should have to fight alone. For anyone that wonders what they can do for their loved one, family member or friend during their treatments, it doesn't have to be complicated. It can just be sitting there with them during treatment, this helps the time go faster. It can be offering to drive them to treatments or to pick up some groceries for them.

Survivorship starts from when a patient first gets diagnosed and truly never ends. Sometimes days go by where I forget or don't think about being a survivor but it is always a part of me. I found a new calling when I became a "survivor", it was to be an advocate for my patients here at the Heptner Cancer Center. To be for them as a "survivor" friend....I knew what they were going through and I would be there for them. I am grateful for my journey and how it has brought me closer to my patients and so many others. Survivorship is a constant journey from diagnosis through treatment and continues even after all that is done. It includes the emotional parts that come years after your treatments, the parts that no one likes to think or talk about. The times when it is time for your yearly scan or blood work, or mammogram. Those times can be just as difficult emotionally as the diagnosis.

The Heptner Cancer Center celebrates ALL of our survivors and are honored to take care of them, from diagnosis through all the years that follow. It takes a team!

Leigh Johnson, Director, Heptner Cancer Center

  • Category: Cancer Treatment