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Living with her family history

12 WOMEN WINNING THE FIGHT • BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH SERIES

Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013 1:38 AM
Last updated 1:44 AM
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Earnestine Johnson suspected she had cancer before the doctor confirmed it.

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Earnestine Johnson was first diagnosed and treated in 2006. The cancer returned and she had a mastectomy in 2012.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Earnestine Johnson was first diagnosed and treated in 2006. The cancer returned and she had a mastectomy in 2012.

Her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1983 and died from it. So when Johnson felt a lump one day in 2006 she had a pretty good idea what it was.

Johnson underwent a lumpectomy and radiation, and took Tamoxifen for five years. After she finished the course of Tamoxifen, the cancer returned. The news was just as devastating the second time around. This time she had a double mastectomy and chemotherapy.

“The first time I was scared,” she said. “The second time, the same thing happened. I was just so outdone. I was like, ‘Why me?’ I thought the first time it would stay gone. I didn’t know it would come back.”

The support of her family was invaluable. Her sisters went with her to chemotherapy treatments, and her husband and children helped keep her spirits up and prayed with her.

Johnson said she feels fortunate that the chemotherapy did not make her sick, as it does to many others, but it did make her very weak. She returned to work Aug. 22 and said she’s still working on getting her strength back.

“I tell you, it’s been a hard road,” she said. “I made it through with the help of the Lord.”

UPCOMING EVENTS

NOV. 13

Look Good ... Feel Better for Women: second Wednesday of each month; 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.; GRU Cancer Center, 1411 Laney-Walker Blvd.; first floor, Community Conference Room; free; workshop helps cancer patients combat the appearance-related side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment; (706) 721-0466

NOV. 14

Breast Cancer Support Group: second Thursday of each month; 12:30 to 2 p.m.; GRU Cancer Center, 1411 Laney-Walker Blvd.; first floor, Community Conference Room; group supports women and families affected by breast cancer; (706) 721-4109; gru.edu/classes

ABOUT EARNESTINE JOHNSON

AGE: 54

HOMETOWN: Augusta

FAMILY: Sons Antwaun Stewart Sr. and Zedrick Stewart; sisters Patricia Singfield and Lenora Howard; brother, Ernest Stewart

OCCUPATION: Food service, Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT: November 2006 – lumpectomy, 61/2 weeks radiation and five years Tamoxifen; October 2012 – eight weeks of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy

HER ADVICE: “Just be strong and have faith in God. Take all your treatments. Do what the doctors tell you to do. Eat healthy so your (blood) count will be good. If your count isn’t good, they have to skip a treatment.”


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