March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and one Marion County woman won’t let cancer keep her off the dance floor.
With each position and pose, each twist and turn, 35-year old Lisa Johnson tells an amazing story: her own.
“I started dancing when I was 2-years-old. It’s always been my passion, my own kind of therapy,” said Lisa Johnson, cancer survivor.
In 2010, the lifelong ballerina, newlywed, and recent college graduate began experiencing occasional constipation and bloating.
“Finally my last symptom was a sharp stabbing pain in my right butt cheek. So, I finally said ‘okay I’m going to make an appointment with a surgeon’. Still in my mind thinking it was internal hemorrhoids.”
Johnson was diagnosed with Stage IIIB Rectal Cancer when she was 26.
“The pain I felt in my butt cheek was a 7 cm tumor, that was blocking 90% of my colon.”
Her treatment began with 6 weeks of chemotherapy and radiation.
“I went from a semi-normal mid-twenties woman to a cancer patient within a week after I found a doctor who believed me,” Johnson said.
Two months later the cancer was back. A second more invasive surgery consisted of removing some lymph nodes, her tailbone, ovaries, uterus, and vagina. All of this was followed by an external pelvic reconstruction.
“You switch into warrior mode. You know what you have to do. You know you have to do chemo, you have to radiation, you have to do surgery. So, that becomes your mindset.”
Johnson has recently returned to the world of dance, “It’s been extremely liberating.”
She was one of 9 models under the age of 50 featured in the “On the Rise” publication.
“It’s all about talking to the staff, the senate, the state officials about what we can do to make our state better informed about education of colorectal cancer awareness and see what we can do to put an end to this disease.”
Johnson says she ‘lives to love and loves to live’ This June she will celebrate 7 years in remission.
“It’s important to be your own advocate, it’s important to fight to find a doctor who will believe you because he or she is out there.”