Tammy Johnson: 'When you hear the 'C-word' it is hard to process'

Posted Thursday, May 9, 2019 5:00 pm


“I was married in September 2008 to Michael Johnson,” Tammy Johnson, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland, noted.

“The next April, I went for my yearly checkup. I had my first ever negative results. I got a call from my doctor. She said to come in, we have a problem,” Johnson said.

Johnson went in for more evasive procedures. When the results came in, the doctor again contacted her.

“So, I took my husband with me. It can’t be good or they would not be calling me back again,” she said.

The doctor explained there was an abnormal result. She wanted to do a biopsy.

“Within the next couple of weeks, I had a biopsy on my cervix. I found out I had something called adenocarcinoma, which is a very aggressive form of cancer that hides in the intestines and spreads,” she said.

When she went back to the doctor’s office, she was asked “how do you feel about having children?”
Johnson told the doctor, “the fact you are asking me that question makes me think it is not good.”

The doctor said it was not. The doctor had gotten a second and third opinion from doctor colleagues, who told her the growth needed to come out immediately.

“When you hear the ‘C’ word, it is hard to process,” Johnson said.  However, she had a decision to make.

“I had a friend who was a chemo nurse in Knoxville. I called her and asked her to look at the results,” Johnson said. “She had two doctors she worked with look at them.”

They concurred with Johnson’s doctor and friends — it needed to come out immediately.

"I had gone from a biopsy to having to have a hysterectomy within six weeks. We had been married less than a year. We are faced with having cancer and we won’t be able to have children. It was not until a year later, that I learned how dangerous it (the cancer) was,” Johnson said.

Fortunately, the cervical cancer was found early and removed. Johnson has not had to have chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

“For me, I feel like I was blessed. I could have been pregnant with cancer. I could have had a baby and died with cancer and left my husband with a new baby.

“Cancer is one of the worst diagnosis you can get. It is hard and you immediately think you are going to die from it, but I found out I had cancer and could not have children,” Johnson said.

“Thankfully we caught it (the cancer) early. The interesting part of my stories is when I was born, I was a breach baby. My hips were dislocated,” she said.

It was her mother who realized something was wrong with her hips. She was put into traction, but it did not work.

“I ended up having eight different body casts. I had to wear braces. Nothing made my hips heal.

"At about a year and half, my parent took me to an old-fashioned tent revival and I was healed,” she said.

Even though her hips are fine now, Johnson had wondered if she would be able to deliver a baby. As labor progressives, the hips realign to let the baby emerge.

“God really knows what is best for us,” she said. “We look for blessings in the middle of sorrow.

“There are so many blessings.   We look around to see who we can help. We love on our nieces and nephews. We have time and money we can focus on others.

“I am being healthy. I am able to do this work for Habitat. We give love and are super passionate about the people around us,” Johnson said.