DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE - CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED MEDICAL RESEARCH PROGRAMS
Wanda Johnson
Photo and text used with permission of Wanda Johnson

It was an extremely beautiful Monday morning, April 6, 2009, when I had gone for a routine mammogram, just like I had for the previous 26 years because my mother had breast cancer. While chatting with the technician, I made the following statement "Oh by the way, would you try to get an image of this knot right here?" Upon returning to the exam room, the technician asked if I could stay so that they could perform other tests. Four hours later, I knew that I had just been handed a diagnosis of breast cancer; ER+, PR+ and HER2+, Stage IIA Invasive Ductal Breast Cancer. On June 10, 2009, I had a successful lumpectomy, began chemotherapy treatment and by August, my head was BALD. Then it was onto radiation and a journey of anti-cancer therapy for the past 7 years.

Little did I know that my advocacy would begin before my own diagnosis. A year and a half before receiving my diagnosis, I was thrust into being a full-time caregiver for my sister due to advanced gallbladder cancer. I literally became her voice because she decided to yield her care to me. The torch was lit to help others through their journey. I have used this voice in work with Reconstruction of a Survivor (Project Leader/Group Facilitator), CanCare (1-1 telephone support), online survivor support, participant in various research studies and as a speaker. Other advocacy work includes the DoD Breast Cancer Research Program, Susan G. Komen African-American Health Equity Initiative, Susan G. Komen Houston – Galveston County Coalition in Action, myCancerConnection program at MD Anderson Cancer Center and NBCC Project Lead Graduate and more. The DoD BCRP is critically important because it is a major component in the efforts to expand survival, enhance quality of life, and save lives while increasingly working to put an end to this disease. My experience as a DoD BCRP consumer reviewer has been a source of encouragement, education and fulfillment. It has been an honor and privilege to be invited to the table with such brilliant scientists, clinicians, professionals and survivors to be a voice for those who have been diagnosed and others living with breast cancer. As a consumer reviewer, I get to add another dimension of growth as an advocate for others who do and will travel through a journey with breast cancer until we reach that day.

Last updated Monday, October 9, 2017