Fight the Good Fight, Help Samantha Johansen Knockout Cancer

For: Samantha Jo Johansen
Orlando, FL
Organizer: Frederick Johansen
Fight the Good Fight, Help Samantha Johansen Knockout Cancer (Samantha Jo Johansen)
$104,287
of $100,000 goal
100% Complete
Raised by 892 donors

The Story

After years of trying to have a baby, Samantha and Fred Johansen’s prayers were answered. 

Frederick Knox was born on November 4, 2016.  Samantha is tough, but tiny – so carrying an 8lb + baby wasn’t easy (carrying babies in general isn’t easy!).  Surprisingly, symptoms and pains that were associated with pregnancy didn’t go away as expected. Just 7 weeks after Knox’s birth, tests revealed a tumor. Days later, Sam was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colorectal Cancer with numerous metastatic tumors on her liver. 


Family, church family, friends and colleagues know that Sam is a ray of sunshine. Her outer beauty is nothing compared to her amazing kindness, compassion and selflessness. She is joyful and loving – and she is determined to fight AND beat this. 

Sam is deeply loved by so many people. Now is the time she needs your love, prayers and support as she undergoes treatment. First and foremost, please pray for Sam, her new baby, Fred and her family. Second believe in Sam and her strength to kick this awful disease. And finally, please consider providing financial support – in any amount – to help the Johansen family with lost wages, travel and other unexpected expenses related to Sam’s treatment.

You can support Sam by making a donation. Please encourage your friends and family to do the same by sharing this page widely and frequently. Your generosity will mean everything to Samantha, her family, and friends.

A note from Sam….

Everyone has a story... this is just a chapter in mine. It’s a surreal feeling as a 33-year-old healthy and active woman hearing you have stage 4 Colorectal Cancer.  Barely 2 months after giving birth to our son, Knox.

Countless thoughts, scenarios and feelings run through your mind as you try to piece it all together. This however, I know to be true... I serve a big God, one that saves, one that heals and one that has a plan for my life. So as I begin the fight of my life, all I can ask for are your prayers, encouragement, love and support – not just for me, but for my husband Fred, our newborn baby Knox and the rest of our family and friends.

I know that second to my faith the thing that will get me through this is my army of family and friends. Just over the past few weeks I am overwhelmed with the amount of energy, time and dedication my team has put into getting me the best possible treatment. 

Fred, my Husband, my Warrior, my Best Friend – God has put you in my life for such a time as this.  Words cannot express how hopeful and inspired I am as I watch you cope with this.   I know that our love will only grow stronger as we walk this road hand-in-hand. I wouldn't want anyone else in my corner.  

Sabrina, my cup runneth over, you are my Sister, and I love you so much.  

Jess, I cannot find the words to express the love I have for you.  Our friendship is everything to me.  

Kim, you never cease to amaze me. I am so incredibly blessed to have you in my life not just as a boss, but as a friend and mentor.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you do for me. My church family at Discovery Church Southwest and DC Students, all your love, encouragement, prayers, dinners, cards, etc. are taken to heart – I love you. 

To the rest of my family, friends and community... this is not going to be easy. Thank you for your support, making me laugh, getting me out of the house...Together we will fight the good fight, and our Faith will sustain us. 

God did not intend us to do life alone, so with you all by my side, I know we will get through this.  


I can do all this through him who gives me strength
.- Philippians 4:13

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on May 2, 2018

UpdateImage

Posted on May 2, 2018

“On the darkest of days, when I feel inadequate, unloved and unworthy. I remember whose daughter I am and I straighten my crown.”-unknown

Oh what a few weeks can do to your heart and soul... (& lungs) 

Less than a month ago on April 8th we made the all-to-familiar trek to MSK for what we thought would be a simple and relatively easy procedure to destroy three tumors on my left lung.

I mean, it’s not liver surgery. 

Another One Bites the Dust

Dr. Stephen Solomon, (Chief of Interventional Radiology @ MSK) and his dedicated team conducted the Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) procedure.  Using a CT scan technology, the image-guided needle was navigated into the center of each tumor mass.   Once positioned, a high-frequency electrical current was shot into each tumor thus destroying the unwelcome residents.   My left lung was liberated however, a post-op x-ray showed some excess air was trapped in my lung cavity.  I received a Pneumothorax diagnosis which came with a first-class trip up to the 16th floor.  

After having a chest tube inserted I slipped on my ear buds, eye mask and started my Calm app and passed out.   The next morning x-rays confirmed the chest tube worked and the excess air was gone.

After only 1 night, we were discharged.  This was a much welcomed first for Fred and I.

I felt good leaving the hospital and was eager to get out of the city for some much needed R&R.     

Goodbye Manhattan, Hello Hamptons.

We were very blessed this past trip to be able to stay with friends in their beautiful home.   The day after being discharged, I started experiencing some labored breathing.    MSK ordered me to strict bedrest and told Fred to closely monitor my breathing.  The next day my breathing was not getting better.   When it became too difficult to speak in complete sentences, we knew we’d have to head back. Since we were at least 90 minutes from Memorial Hospital, Fred brought me to the closest MSK campus on Long Island in Commack.   

Upon check in, another x-ray was ordered.  This time the x-ray showed excess fluid building in my left lung cavity.  After viewing the scan, Fred later told me that 2/3 of my lung cavity was immersed.

I remember thinking to myself “it can never be easy can it.” 

After the x-ray, Dr. Stigelbaum came into the room explained that I had a Pleural Effusion

*buildup of fluid between the tissues that line the lungs and the chest.

…and that I needed a Thoracentesis

*procedure in which a needle is inserted into the pleural space between the lungs and the chest wall to remove excess fluid, to help you breathe easier.

Sigh, here we go again... ear buds, eye mask and Calm app and Night, Night for Sam.

Despite the MSK team’s best efforts e.g. Draining ½ a liter of fluid out of my lung cavity, another post-op x-ray revealed the cavity was still immersed

My little left lung was out of breathing room.    

Cue Ambulance, EMT’s, Lights and Siren.  

Manhattan We’re Coming Back.

As I later told this part of the story to friends and family, I’ve been asked a lot if I was scared in the Ambulance.   I can honestly say I wasn’t.   

Now some may argue that had to do with the pain meds. 

But I know because I’ve learned - it’s because God’s divine plan for me covers it ALL – despite the bumps, disappointments, knock downs and tragedies.  His are always Plans to prosper me and not to harm me, Plans to give me hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

Plus - I'd never been in an ambulance before.  Weaving our way into NYC with lights flashing and siren screaming was kind of exciting.   

So, after a 24-hour wait in the Urgent Care, 3 more nights on the 16th floor, and a few liters of excess fluid drained out… my little lung inflated up and started working again.  

We got back to Orlando about 2 weeks ago on April 18th. 

So where does that leave us?  -  So glad you asked :-)

After what feels like a pit stop at home.

This week Fred and I are back at it. 

Ready to make another trek. This time for the right lung.

A big reason why we are able to get the best care possible and be as aggressive as possible is a direct result of your donations.I want to take a moment and thank all of you who have donated, shared our story and blanketed me in love and support.

Tomorrow, May 3rd we head BACK TO NYC.  Friday May 4th Dr. Solomon will perform the 2nd RFA procedure to remove 2 spots on my right lung.    

As we prepare to Fly back to MSK on Thursday we ask that you take a moment and pray for the following:

  • This procedure goes smoother than the last
  • That Right Lung recovers better than my Left Lung did.  Prayers for a quick turn-around and recovery
  • Continued Wisdom and Understanding for Dr. Solomon, Dr. Kemeny (Queen Bee) and all the Nurses and MSK team
  • Accommodations in NYC (my sweet husband always having to sleep in a chair)
  • GiGi and Pop Pop for taking care of our precious Knox and Cassius
  • God's provision and protection
  • Safe travels to and from NYC
  • Prayers that this will be the last procedure for a while

I hope to continue sharing my story so that God will use me to impact, encourage and give hope to others.   So, on behalf of my family and friends please keep sharing, donating (every dollar amount is prayed over and appreciated) and praying. 

I can't even begin to count how many people have impacted my life over the past year, but I want to start highlighting and personally thanking some people who have made all the difference.  I continue to fight for you all.

My girls. My tribe. My prayer warriors.

Sabrina Seidman, Ashley Lucille, Jessica Diaz, Kim Martin, Wesley Brinkhurst, Jenn Ruble, Erin Chavez, Erin Brown, Ashley Angelotti, Becca Hundersmark, Danielle White, Erin Fischer, Amber DeFino - you girls are life! From the memory box, to random trips to Disney, Sam Strong tank tops, phone calls, gift cards and boxes, text messages, concerts, pool days, you name it, these girls do it. God has blessed me SO GREATLY with the most amazing core group of girls. You give me life, make me laugh, bring me joy and create an environment where I feel safe and free to be myself. I can't thank you enough for your love and support. 

Adam Friden and team at Catered Fit.

When this journey started and I had no idea what to do diet-wise, Adam you came to the rescue! I just want to thank you and your awesome team for sending us meals that catered to our needs. I've known you since 1st grade and could not be more proud of how far you've come. Fred and I appreciate your business and hope it will continue to expand and impact the lives of others along the way. 

My glam squad!

SIKE! (do people still say that? well, i just did)... I don't really have one but some days I feel like I do. Lea Montes, you are a dream. Thank you for making me feel and look like a movie star but more importantly I appreciate your friendship and encouragement. You're gorgeous, talented and blessed with a heart of gold. I adore you. Kristen Weaver - from the day I saw those beach wedding pictures on your website I KNEW you were going to be our wedding photographer. Little did I know the friendship that would unfold because of it. God has given you such a beautiful talent and I'm honored to be one of your subjects. Thank you for all the memories you've captured of us over the years - nothing will ever replace that. Jenny Bracht at Dolce Vita - you gorgeous girl you. Thank you making me feel beautiful even with this crazy hair I have these days. You have the most incredible heart and I'm just thankful to know you. And yes, Katie Hill I still love you boo don't think I ever forget about you. xo

Thank you all for continuing this journey with me.  We will update everyone ASAP.   

Fight the Good Fight.

#SamStrong


Posted on April 6, 2018

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Posted on April 6, 2018

"I want to remind you that you're not weird or different for sharing what you're going through. Just the opposite. It could be the most important thing you do. It was for me." - NBA Star, Kevin Love

I admit, the first time I ever skipped school I was 9 years old. Yup, this adorable second grader wearing a new purple flower dress, walked right out the front doors of PLE and over a mile home (so scary!).

Why you ask?   Because I didn't want to write anymore.

Ironically for me, writing continues to be therapeutic.  So here we go...

Theirs’s no If’s Ands or Kardashian sized Buts about it - depression is real. Over the last year and 3 months I've lived in the Cancer fighting bubble of chemotherapy, pain meds, blood transfusions, beeping filled nights in hospitals, an ileostomy, severe diarrhea and vomiting, dropping to a frightening 55 lbs, surgeries, trips to New York once a month... sometimes twice, doctor visits - all while being a new mom.   I KNOW I've bottled up all my feelings which are now flooding my mind. For some reason, I've always struggled with sharing and communicating my feelings. Sometimes I just can’t find the words or know why I feel the way I do.  My best friend calls me “Silent Sam.”

You could say over the past 6 years the "perfect storm" has been brewing. Let me take you on a trip down memory lane... December 6, 2012 mine and Fred's dream wedding was cancelled at The One and Only in the Bahamas because the cruise we were on decided not to port. 

That’s ok, it’s out of our control. 

We tried for 2 years to have a baby. 

Nope, we press on. 

During our 5th round of IUI, I got pregnant for 6 weeks but that did not last. 

Just keep swimming….

So, IVF was our next option. After weeks of injections, blood work and doctor visits we drove to Jacksonville for insemination. 1 week later, I start bleeding...fail.

No problem, we still have 3 eggs left – let’s try again. 

Finally, on Fred’s 36th birthday I must have taken 8 tests all of which said pregnant. The doctor would confirm and 9 months later, our miracle Frederick “Knox” Johansen was born. 

Victory!

Oh, but only 7 short weeks later I was diagnosed with stage IV Colorectal Cancer with metastasis to my liver and now my lungs. 

Sigh. Just breathe...

"How we process heartbreak has huge impact on who we are and who we become. The more deeply it hurts you the more important it is to process." - Pastor Don Cousins

As I begin to deal with this emotional cancer I ask for your continued support and prayers. There is comfort in knowing this soldier is not alone. 

Thankfully, God places certain people in our lives to help pull us out of our ruts. Last week the Mogull family did just that. David, spending the day with you, Radka and the kids at Disney brought me so much joy! Not to mention you got Fred to the Magic Kingdom... that’s a big deal for the Johansens. Lol We look forward to staying with you next week while in NYC. Thank you for all you’ve done for our family – we appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. After all, it’s because of you that Fred and I met 13 years ago!

As for the physical cancer, 5 nodules have set -up shop in my lungs. Unfortunately, chemo didn’t shrink them.  Now taking center stage; Dr. Solomon MSK's Chief of Interventional Radiology.  So, on April 10 Dr. Solomon and his team will place me in a Cat Scan and guide a needle into the cancerous tumors in my right lung– heat it up, and “Good bye little tumor.”

The same procedure will be scheduled in 4-6 weeks for my left lung. 

So as this journey continues you can support us by making a donation, sharing our story and continue to pray.

Every dollar is prayed over as we seek to be good stewards of the blessings we've been given. Here's a reminder of how your generous donations are being used:

- Flights to NYC once a month for treatment

- Accommodations in NYC

- Doctor visits

- Surgeries

- Medications

- Hospital visits

- Monthly bills

- Insurance copays


#SamStrong

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.


Posted on March 2, 2018

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Posted on March 2, 2018

"Anyone who holds onto life just as it destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever..." John 12:25

'Cause I'm hot then I'm cold
I'm yes then I'm no
I'm in then I'm out
I'm up then I'm down...


Katy Perry could not have depicted my life at the moment any better. Moving into 2018, I felt encouraged, motivated and a strong sense of peace. Sooo it should come as NO surprise that the enemy has tried to take advantage of that. He knows our weaknesses and targets those until we surrender to his lies. So if I'm being honest January/February has been no easy feat. Although physically I feel better than I have in a year, mentally its been a tug of war. One day I'm focused, motivated and encouraged - posting workout videos and loving every second. Then the next day I wake up just well, indifferent. If I'm being honest, it’s taken me 3 days just to write this. There are days I feel so fragile and overwhelmed. Case and point, last weekend I made my first (and hopefully last) trip to the Apple Store.

WORST. PLACE. EVER. Can I get an amen?!

How people actually enjoy being there - I will never understand.

Anywho, I sat there for 4 hours on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I was in the middle of chemo. My brain was foggy, there were waaaaay to many people in my personal space (actually, you have no personal space there), I was so tired and I just couldn’t focus enough to make a decision. The Apple Store is the LAST PLACE one should be indecisive. My point is, there are days when I feel like the worst of it is behind me and then “Bam” I’m an emotional Yo-Yo,  jerked down into dark places where fear, anxiety and sadness loom.  Sigh. Thankfully a friend reminded me that the mental battle is just a tough as the physical.   I have to consciously remind myself that each day is a blessing and a battle.



"When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed." - Maya Angelou

It's true that you gain more joy doing things for others than doing them for yourself. I wish I could do this more and quite frankly I can’t wait to give back, like really impact people the way I have been impacted by all the love and hope I’ve received.  Since I've been sick, I have met the most incredibly giving and kind people.   My family, friends and complete strangers have held me up and encouraged me in so many ways.  One thing I have learned over the past year is how to be a better receiver. I love doing things for others so being on the opposite end isn’t always easy.  It sounds silly, I know. It’s so humbling and I just hope and pray that I am able to pay it forward one day.

Nurses, the Heart of Healthcare

Over the past 14 months, I've met my fair share of nurses. My consensus, they have a special place in heaven! God spent a little more time on ya'll, giving you hearts of gold, warm spirits and a sensitive touch. With it being nurse appreciation week, I'd like to acknowledge all the nurses out there and say THANK YOU for what you do. It takes a very special person to do what you do. I appreciate your talent and thoughtful care so much. And for the special nurses in my life: Ashley Angelotti, Ashley Lucille, Amber Defino, Monica Asorey, Stinzi at MSK, Doreen at UFCC, Vicki at MSK my heart goes out to you - thank you for your help with answering questions about my healthcare and Knox's over the past year. We love you!

Happy Birthday to... ME!

Fred always laughs because I've been known to celebrate my birthday for a week - "Sam's birthday week!" Although this year it’s taken on a whole new meaning. 35! Birthdays are life - it’s another year of fulfilling God's purpose for my life. Sure it’s just a number but when you have cancer it’s also a milestone.  I got to experience life with the love of my life, make beautiful memories, achieve new goals, watch my son experience so many firsts. My 35th will be filled with celebration, gratitude and hope… and will definitely take at least a week!

Road to Recovery

On January 14, we headed back to NYC for more scans, doctor consults and a new treatment plan. CT showed my liver is rejuvenating fine - thank you Lord.  Under Dr. Kemeny's direction, we are praying for a new treatment plan for those little nodules on my lungs.  

So on March 14th (yes, my Birthday) we are praying that Dr. Kemeny will read us the results from the CT scan and that  A) the current chemo treatment has shrunk the cancer enough to ablate or B) it has killed the cancer altogether. Prayers for plan B! We will also be meeting Dr. Stephen Solomon, Interventional Radiologist to discuss surgery and next steps.  

It is in my heart to be as transparent as possible. That being said, we humbly ask for you to continue donating, following/sharing our story (I hope to impact your life just as you have mine) and praying for the following:

- Chemo pills have done their job and lung spots are gone or can be removed

- Full and complete healing

- Peace and Encouragement

- God's provision

- Protection as we travel to and from NYC

- Remembering to Choose Joy everyday - life is fragile, precious and unpredictable. Each day is a gift.

#SamStrong

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