By Lamont Neal on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012 |
Lori Johnson was first diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer on January 7,
2009. Surgery was not an option since it was Stage IV and there was total liver involvement.
When she first met with her oncologist, Dr. Kollipara at Ft. Wayne Oncology &
Hemotology, she remembers walking into his office and saying to him “I don’t mean to be
rude, but I don’t want doom and gloom. I want you to tell me how to fight this -- I have three
children to raise.” She began chemo treatments immediately, and on October 28, 2009 she
was classified in early remission, which is unheard of so soon after treatment with this stage of
When you meet Lori you are struck by her beautiful smile and shining blue eyes. She
emanates energy, a powerful faith, a positive attitude and a determination to not allow her
cancer diagnosis keep her from raising her three children, Lauren, 18, Lucas, 15, Larissa, 12.
On October 29, 2009, her three children tragically lost their dad. In October 2010, she
had double hip replacement.
Round II: October, 2011: Lori’s cancer returned....estrogen receptors were fueling the
cancer and her liver was the weak area. Every time cancer returns the battle intensifies
because the cancer is more aggressive. In February, 2012 she began a rigorous round of
chemotherapy. Right now her liver enzymes are at the highest level she has had in three
years. She has four more weeks of chemo after which she will have a pet scan to determine
what progress has been made.
Her three children, her parents, her bounty of friends and prayer warriors make up the
support team that rallies together with her to win the battle against this dreaded disease. The
contagious smile never seems to leave Lori’s beautiful face. Her encouraging words and her
bountiful glow of positive energy are testimony to her determination to be the victor in this
Lori’s response to the cancer returning: “This is the hand I have been dealt, so I might
as well make the best out of a bad situation. I told my children ‘life is full of bumps and we
must live each day to the fullest and we will.’ I don’t think about dying...I live for my children.
There is no time for “doom and gloom.” My children need me, and I will not let cancer defeat
me in my goal to raise them to adulthood.”
Amazingly enough, Lori feels cancer has blessed her with the ability to be more vocal
about her faith and has provided her with numerous opportunities to minister to others
fighting the disease. She never declines a moment to share her faith and to boost the morale
of another by sharing her positive outlook and insatiable energy. She is fortunate that the
only side effect of her treatment has been fatigue.
With three children involved in extracurricular activities, Lori doesn’t have time for
fatigue. She works full-time as a nurse for Dr. Ringenberg in Huntington. She maintains an
intense focus in battling her cancer and passionate determination to continue to fighting for
those who lost the battle. She feels that if she can make one person realize that with God on
their side they can beat this disease, it will have been worth it.
Nothing gets Lori’s dander up more than a patient receiving a cancer diagnosis and
being told they only have a little time left to live. She believes strongly that hope is key in
successfully battling the disease. She is an example that a positive attitude can make a
difference. Each day she reminds herself of three things: faith first and foremost, for every
negative there is a positive, and having her children is a reason to live.
Since her diagnosis in 2009, Lori and her Team LJ have participated in the Relay for
Life. Her team co-captains, Kelly Fawcett and Kristie Snyder will again be in action for a
fourth year as they walk for a cure. Lori never dreamed that her cancer diagnosis would be
what urged her to participate in Relay for Life. Now she knows that everyone will at one time
or another be touched by cancer in their lifetime whether it be with a family member or a
friend. After participating in her first survivor lap in 2009, she said: “nothing gave me more
reason to have hope than witnessing the array of purple survivor shirts walking the lap at
To those diagnosed with cancer she encourages them to contact the American Cancer
Society where assistance is available for prescriptions and mileage costs. She directs women
without insurance coverage to contact Francine & Friends to take advantage of mobile
mammograms that are free of charge as long as it’s a screening and not after a problem has
You can help Lori and other survivors beat cancer by taking part Huntington’sRelay for
Life. It’s easy and it’s going to be really fun! If you’re not familiar with how the Relay works,
here’s the scoop. It’s an overnight event organized by volunteers to fight cancer. Huntington’s
Relay kicks off on Saturday June 9, at 2:00 P.M., at Kriegbaum Field. For more information
contact Sally Grimes at 358.6614 or
And Lori’s final note: “ Early
detection is key, don’t be a procrastinator like me, get
your mammies grammed.”
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