Persistence in Screening Conquers Cancer

When Donna Johnson of Ohsweken visited her family doctor in October of 2012, she had no inkling that her life was at a crossroads.

Donna Johnson

Donna Johnson

“It was just a routine checkup,” recalls Donna. “I wasn’t feeling any discomfort. I did have some extra bleeding during my cycle, but I thought it was just the onset of menopause.”

Her doctor became concerned after seeing the results of a Pap smear, so she sent Donna for additional testing at the local hospital in Brantford. Donna was then referred to Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, where she was put into the care of Dr. John Mazurka.

Dr. Mazurka’s examination of Donna indicated possible cervical cancer.

“He ordered a biopsy, which didn’t show any signs of cancer,” says Donna. “Convinced that something was wrong, he ordered a second, larger biopsy, which also didn’t show any signs. It wasn’t until the third biopsy that the cancer showed up. I’m glad he was so persistent.”

The diagnosis of cervical cancer was devastating to Donna, who had no family history of cancer.

“I was scared and started crying when I first received the diagnosis,” she says. “You start to wonder how long you have left to live. You think of your family and you worry about what’s going to happen to them.”

Dr. Mazurka put Donna on a program of radiation and chemotherapy, which lasted from January to March, five days a week.

“During my treatment, the nurses and staff were exceptionally kind. My experience at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre was very positive.”
– Donna Johnson 

The most uncomfortable part of the treatment for Donna was the severe gastro-intestinal discomfort caused by the radiation and chemotherapy. She was told that her stomach issues might persist even after the completion of treatment, but luckily this was not the case.

After her treatment was completed, no trace of cancer could be found in Donna’s body.

“I’ve been cancer-free for three years now and my health is fabulous,” she says. “The experience has changed my perspective on what’s really important in life. All that matters is your faith, your family and your health.”

Donna decided to share her cancer journey because she wanted to help educate others.

“I’m sharing my story to let other women know that they need to have regular checkups. If I didn’t go for mine, I might not be here today. It can actually save your life.”

After her experience at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, Donna recognizes the importance of donor support more than ever.

“People should donate because you never know when you or a family member will need the services of the hospital,” she says. “Giving your support can make a real difference.”

View Donna’s story below and consider donating to Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre Foundation by clicking here.