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10-12-16


Overcoming Breast Cancer
Local survivor tells her personal story


By Jill Childs


An estimated 249,260 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the year 2016, according to the American Cancer Society. While the figures also say that over 40,000 women will die of the illness, the American Cancer Society urges women to understand that “Survival rates don’t tell the whole story” (www.cancer.org).


Breast cancer awareness is important because there are many factors that affect the likelihood of overcoming it, such as early detection and effective treatment regimens. But there is even more to it than that. The American Cancer Society explains that patients’ outlooks can have an effect on treatment, and that is even more clear after hearing Ruth Johnson of Lake City share her story about her battle with breast cancer.


Ruth Johnson has been cancer free for 11 years.
-Photo: Submitted

In 2004, when Johnson was 69 years old, she went to have her regular yearly mammogram. Due to having no symptoms, she was shocked to find out that her results were concerning, and even more shocked when the biopsy came back to report that her results were cancerous. She did in fact have ductal carcinoma. With the cancer in stage two, her doctor recommended that she receive a lumpectomy that would be followed by chemotherapy, radiation, and five years of medication.


However, that is not how Johnson overcame the disease. When she received the news of her treatment plan, Johnson found herself praying, “God, I don’t want to have to take chemo.” She then felt that God was asking her to take a leap of faith, telling her, “If you’ll trust me, you won’t have to take it.” Johnson reported that she felt like God wanted her to trust Him like a child who does not hesitate to leap safely off of a wall into her father’s arms.



Johnson also went on to say, “I’ve never been one of those ‘God told me ….’ people. But, I just just knew that I knew.” However, it was a mental battle for Johnson as she waited three months to have the lumpectomy. There were times when she had to overcome defeating thoughts - thoughts telling her that she would not make it. She spent that time listening to Bible verses on healing and setting her mind on what she had learned in a Bible study about believing God.



After the lumpectomy, Johnson stood firm on what she felt she should do: tell her doctor that she was refusing the chemotherapy, radiation, and 5-year medication regimen. She reported that her doctor said, “I’m currently treating nine women with breast cancer. You are the only one choosing to refuse treatment.” She stated, “He told me that I had to have the treatment.” Even so, Johnson went forward with no treatments and is still cancer free today - 11 years later. She has a yearly mammogram to be sure that the cancer has not returned.



Johnson’s story of overcoming breast cancer is a remarkable one. However, although not all women with breast cancer will choose the same treatment course as Johnson, the purpose of creating more breast cancer awareness is to empower women to make sure that their stories all include beating the disease. According to breastcancer.org, breast self-exams, regular mammograms, and early detection are the most significant influences in beating breast cancer.


Without breast self-exams and mammograms, there are usually no noticeable symptoms of breast cancer until it has progressed to an advanced stage. The American Cancer Society reports that women with stage zero breast cancer almost have a 100 percent survival rate. However, even for women in more advanced stages, long-term survival is very possible with healthy outlooks and access to effective treatment.



For more information on risk factors, symptoms, treatments, and support, visit www.breastcancer.org or ww5.komen.org.