By JODIE SPEARS

SPECIAL TO THE LOG CABIN

Joyce Johnson is no stranger to cancer. Not only is she a breast cancer survivor, she also has a number of family members and friends with different types of cancer. 

While performing her self exam, Johnson found a ridge on her breast that had not been there the previous week. Within the next week, she had a biopsy, met with a surgeon and had a bilateral mastectomy. 

After Johnson was diagnosed, she called her twin sisters, who are 15 months older than she is, and demanded they get mammograms. She did so just in time. One sister had breast cancer, and the other was precancerous.

Since then, Johnson has become an advocate for monthly self exams. 

“All my friends get monthly e-mail reminders about their self exams,” Johnson said. “I had a clean mammogram four months prior to me finding the knot. I would have had eight more months to go. The size and the stage that mine was would have possibly been devastating in eight months.” 

She added with a smile, “I’m not shy about cancer. I’ve lost too many people that I love.”

E-mail reminders are not the only way Johnson is fighting back against cancer. She has been involved with Relay for Life of Faulkner County since 2005. Relay for Life is the American Cancer Society’s annual event that celebrates survivorship and raises money for ACS. 

She began as a team captain for Conway Cancer Crusaders. Over the years, she estimates that the team has raised $10,000-$12,000. 

“Relay benefits so many people in the long run,” Johnson said. “I’m really impressed with the percentage of money raised that stays here.”

This year, Johnson’s involvement with Relay for Life is even stronger. In addition to serving as team captain for her church youth group’s team, she is also the co-survivor chair for the Relay committee.  

Johnson has used her experience with cancer to take action. 

“Cancer seems to be the root of all evil in our family,” Johnson said. “We don’t like it, and we’re fighting back.”

The kickoff for Relay for Life of Faulkner County will be held at 6 p.m. Nov. 3 in the Conway Police Department multipurpose room. To learn more about Relay for Life of Faulkner County, go to www.relayforlife.org/faulkner. Also, visit the American Cancer Society at cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Spears is a member of the American Cancer Society)