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Women's Health - A positive attitude and love for my children helped me survive

Local women share stories of strength, courage and survival

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My name is Barbara Johnson and I am coming up on my 30-year anniversary of surviving breast cancer. I wanted to tell my story as encouragement for anyone going through the same thing, because when I started my fight, there was none.

In December of 1987, I underwent a mastectomy and 16 out of 20 of my lymph nodes tested positive for breast cancer. This was not a good sign because the lymph nodes spread cancer throughout the body, and having even one drastically cut the chances of survival. This meant that my outlook was not good, and being a single mother with three children, I was terrified.

I desperately tried to find someone who had beat cancer with a prognosis like mine. I wanted to be assured that it was possible to win my fight. I wasn’t able to find anyone. Any survivors I met had no positive lymph nodes in their diagnosis. Television, books and even the Cancer Society was not able to find anyone I could talk to.  The only thing I could do was fight on for the sake of my three kids.

Well, it was enough because I have been cancer free for 30 years now. The doctor who originally treated me told me years later that he never knew of anyone with my diagnosis do as well as I had. I’d like to think that it was my positive attitude and the love for my children that helped me through. For anyone out there who is going through the same thing, know that it is possible to not only beat this horrible disease, but be cancer free again. I am living proof of that.

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