Editors Note: In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the MI Charitable Foundation is posting stories about survivors’ battles against this disease. Today’s post comes from Analisa Johnson, an MI Windows and Doors customer who works at MG Building Materials in San Antonio. Johnson relays the story of her sister-in-law Anna, who has defeated “every challenge she has faced” since her cancer diagnosis.
Analisa Johnson was in tears when she saw the text.
It was from her sister-in-law Anna, a strong woman and loving mother who’s the big sister of Analisa’s husband. In a group text sent to family members in January 2019, Anna announced that she had breast cancer.
“My first thought was, ‘She’s going to be fine,’” Johnson says. “There have been so many medical advancements in breast cancer. Anna has a strong relationship with God and her faith has never wavered.”
A fighter through and through – she had to be, growing up with four brothers – Anna was the family’s rock at the beginning. However, once she began chemotherapy, fatigue kicked in and Anna rarely left the house.
“She was feeling sick and very tired but couldn’t sleep,” Johnson says. “She didn’t want visitors but would send updates through group text.”
Anna’s situation began to change once she had surgery, as she slowly started acting like her old self. She was helped by her two adult daughters, Lauren and Ericka, who have been by her side every step of the way.
Currently, Anna is undergoing radiation treatment five days a week at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, about a three-hour drive from her home near San Antonio. Although she’s feeling better than she was during chemotherapy, the hard part now is being so far from her family.
“The four brothers and one sister have always been very close,” Johnson says. “Every Sunday after mass we get together at my father-in-law’s house for lunch. Following the diagnosis, Anna’s brothers took the news very hard. She was the strong one, telling them she was going to beat this. Anna is the one who holds the family together; she’s the glue.”
For Johnson, her sister-in-law’s battle with breast cancer is just the latest skirmish in her family’s long fight with the disease. Four of her aunts were diagnosed with breast cancer, and two of them passed away from it.
“Designating a special day or month is a great way to honor those who have passed and to celebrate those who are still here,” she says. “It also serves as a reminder to get your mammogram.”
Having seen the damage the disease does to individuals and families, Johnson has some well-earned wisdom for those who are fighting breast cancer.
“The struggle is not yours alone,” she says. “Lean on your family and talk openly about what each of you are struggling with. This terrible disease affects everyone. Take everyone up on their offers: Whether they want to clean your home, drive you to the next treatment, or cook you dinner. You don’t have to walk this path alone.”