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)
$90,218
of $100,000 goal.
Raised by 775 donors
90% Complete

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 September 13, 2017

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Posted on September 13, 2017

“Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials.”

– James 1:2

Don’t get over them. Don’t rush through them or past them. Rejoice in them.

HUH?

REAL DEAL HOLYFIELD OF EMOTIONS:

To be completely open, I am struggling to rejoice in this trial.  Even over the past week with so much to look forward to, I’ve been feeling somewhat depressed... why? And to be honest I don’t think I’ve dealt with these emotions very well - I tend to shut down and internalize things until I can somewhat communicate them days later. Thankfully, I was reminded by a good friend today that I can’t clear my head because Satan is fighting strong for my joy. This is a mental battle – one of which I’ve chosen to tell Satan “Not this week. Not this heart. Not this body. No way, no how.” So as I press on, reminded every day that I am His light, I will claim Psalm 40:1-2 “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

NEW YORK FASHION WEEK:

So, this year, in the midst of all the turmoil and easily the most difficult year of my life, God has not only made one of my dreams come true - He's basically taken this opportunity to remind me that He alone is God and can do all things.

I could not be more exited to announce that on September 16 at 6pm, I've been chosen to walk in New York Fashion Week! My bucket list consisted of just being a spectator... but nope, God had bigger plans. I now get to walk in a show that couldn't be more special to me. Stay tuned for pictures and behind the scenes updates!

NOW FOR THE IMPORTANT STUFF:

“We will not know whether the HAI pump is working and the tumors are shrinking until our next CT scan in NYC in September.” (YouCaring Update 5- 7/18/17)

Back in late May two surgical teams at Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC proceeded to remove the tumor in my colon and attempted a resection of the entire right lobe of my liver.   Although, Dr. Patty successfully resected the primary tumor with good margins, the liver surgeon decided against a resection of the right lobe as my left lobe “looked too beat up” to sustain me.   Instead a Codman HAI pump was placed in the space previously occupied by my gallbladder.  My oncologist, Dr. Kemeny stated that she would order another CT scan after 3 consecutive monthly HAI pump infusions.   So there we were, Fred and I sitting next to each other in Midtown Manhattan – a 1000 miles from home – not speaking out loud but fully communicating. 

And wouldn’t ya know!  The latest scan showed a good tumor response.  Of the multiple tumors on my liver they all shrunk by 20-50%.  YAY hockey puck shaped pump device in my stomach!  Dr. Kemeny, satisfied with my progress arranged a consultation with a new liver surgeon on 10/3.   

Enter center stage:

Michael I. D'Angelica, MD, FACS Surgeon

Enid A. Haupt Chair in Surgery;

Director, Hepatopancreatobiliary Fellowship Program

Director, Surgical Oncology Fellowship Program

“As a surgical oncologist, I personally perform approximately ~100 hepatopancreatobiliary (operations annually.  For context, a 100 liver operations a year is more than what most hospitals in the U.S. perform. Many patients come to me with cancer that has spread, or metastasized, from the colon to the liver. The tumors that I treat are rare and many forms were once thought to be incurable. There have been periods of time where these operations were thought to be too dangerous and should not be performed.   The liver is a complex organ in a complex area and major complications are easy to run in to.  Therefore, only surgeons who do them routinely can do them safely – and that’s been well established. 

The best days for me as a surgeon are those operations that offer patients a good chance at long-term survival and, in many cases, cure.” 

You can read his bio here:  https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/doctors/michael-d-angelica

The treatment is working and paths are being prepared and we praise God for that!  God is moving and answering prayers which we are so humbled by and thankful for.

The road ahead will bring more blood, expenses and heart ache.  On behalf of our family and friends, we sincerely appreciate your support, prayers and financial contributions during this incredibly difficult time.  With God’s provision of Hope, Peace and Love we move forward together, trusting Him, one day at a time. 

Here is a brief list of how your donations are being used:

- Flights to NYC at least once a month for treatment

- Accommodations in NYC

-Cancer Center for fluids 3x a week

- Bi-weekly doctor visits

- Medications

- Surgeries

- Since Jan 1st, Fred and I have spent 80+ nights in hospitals

- Providing for our family and our 9th month old son, Knox

With Hope, Peace and Love 

Sam, Fred, Knox and Cassius (our French Bulldog)


Posted on July 18, 2017

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Posted on July 18, 2017

For those of you that have followed our journey since December 2016, thank you! If you're just now along for the ride... welcome to the life of the Johansen family. 

My old life was spent working as a Sr. Marketing Specialist at Aspect Software here in Orlando.  I am truly blessed to have worked every day with the most amazing group of people.  I learned so much, and made so many friendships during the 6 years I was there.  My weekends consisted of basically anything that got me out of the house- I was consistently at the gym, shopping, visiting with family and friends... I'd basically do anything to not be inside. Then on November 4th my life was changed.  After years of trying to conceive, my husband Fred and I were blessed with an 8lb 5oz miracle little boy.   I'm now a Mom to the most precious, beautiful ... and independent 8-month old boy, Knox.  Unfortunately, just 7 weeks after Knox’s birth my life changed again as the Doctor walked into the room and told us I had Stage IV Colorectal Cancer. The highest of highs to the lowest of lows in just 7 weeks.

This disease took away my independence, the body I worked so hard for and my ability to work among other things. But as all you Moms can understand what hurts the most is my inability to be active with and take care of Knox. I've lost a lot; however, I will NOT lose faith. I will fight till the end for my family. My unwavering faith, and all the love, support and prayers are what keeps me going. 

I have the most incredible husband. Becoming a new dad is overwhelming in and of itself – when he heard the diagnosis while holding our baby, his entire life came crashing down. But Fred is strong. Not only is he an amazing dad, he's the best caretaker for me. Unfortunately, he had to leave his job in order to do this full-time. 

So as you can imagine, with both of us out of work, trying to provide for a family, traveling to NYC at least once a month for treatment, back and forth to the Cancer Center for fluids 3x a week, bi-weekly doctor visits, medications, surgeries, etc. finances are extremely tight.  Since Jan 1st Fred and I have spent 70+ nights in hospitals – over 2 months of nights away from our baby. It's overwhelming to say the least.

So many of you have asked for updates on where we stand and how much further we have to go. 

The reality is I have a lot of Cancer. At diagnosis, most of my liver was covered with tumors. Every oncologist we have met with has been shocked with just how much. It took many months for Fred to even find a cancer center that would perform surgery on me. 

Last month, my team of surgeons at Memorial Sloane Kettering in NYC removed a tumor measuring 8.9 x 6.4 cm from my rectum, a piece of my colon, did a complete cleanse and gave me a temporary ileostomy. Immediately following that, my gallbladder was taken out and replaced with a Codman HAI pump. Surgery was very long and exhausting but 12 hours later, I was up and walking. Praise God!

I will receive my 10th systemic Chemo infusion tomorrow.  While the HAI pump is slowly infusing a much more potent chemical poison directly into my liver.  The only medical path out of this is to shrink the tumors enough to make resecting 75-80% of my liver possible. The tumors in my liver are big, two of which measure 15.2 x 9.5 cm and 13.2 x 9.2 cm.  

We will not know whether the HAI pump is working and the tumors are shrinking until our next CT scan in NYC in September.    

Telling our story and being transparent isn't easy. God has blessed our family so greatly and YOU ALL have played such a huge role in that. Your donations have allowed my family to get me the best care possible, but more importantly they have allowed us to spend time together, with our baby.  Thank you for your continued love, support, messages, positive energy and most importantly your prayers.  

On days when despair and sorrow come, this verse has sustained me. "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Cor 4:16-19

With Love, Peace and Hope,

Sam, Fred, Knox and Cassius (our French Bulldog)


#SamStrong #FightTheGoodFight


Posted on May 17, 2017

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Posted on May 17, 2017

The Impossible Is God’s Ideal
by Chuck Swindoll

Exodus 14:13

I'd like to underline a major truth in this world of ours that I don't pretend to understand. Here it is: The best framework for the Lord God to do His most ideal work is when things are absolutely impossible and we feel totally unqualified to handle it.


That's His favorite circumstance. Those are His ideal working conditions.


God does His most magnificent work when the situation seems totally impossible from a human point of view, and we feel absolutely unprepared and unable to do anything about it, yet our eyes are on Him. . . . That's when God rolls up His big sleeves and says, "Step back out of the way a moment, and watch Me work." Time after time, He brings us to our absolute end and then proves Himself faithful.


That, my friend, is the story of the Bible in a nutshell.


I’d like to thank everyone for your continued love and prayers. You’re the most incredible support system – I’m so humbled and blessed. 


After THE most emotional week of my 34 years on this earth, I’d like to share with you our answered prayers and what’s about to take place next week.


Fred and I just returned from Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) in NYC where the doctors laid out a complete surgical plan to get the disease down to a manageable state.  The plan includes the following surgical procedures at MSK:

1.     Insert an Inferior Vena Cava Filter below my heart to guard against blood clots

2.     Perform a rectal tumor resection

3.     Remove my gall bladder

4.     Treat my liver metastases with HAI therapy  (https://www.mskcc.org/videos/treating-liver-metastases-hepatic-arterial-infusion-therapy)

5.     15 days after surgery, load the HAI pump with the cancer-killing drugs

6.     30 days after surgery, restart regular chemotherapy (in Orlando)

7.     Six months after surgery, return to MSK to resect my liver to eliminate those tumors.


While the length of this list is intimidating, this is the best possible news that could have come out of our trip to MSK and a direct answer to prayer.  The doctors now, for the first time, have a plan to get this disease under control.  


We will be traveling back to New York on 5/21 to prepare for the plan shown above. 


How am I feeling? I’m terrified. Experiencing my first Mother’s Day put it all in perspective this past weekend – it’s a game changer. BUT it’s causing me to fight even that much harder. Plus, I have the most INCREDIBLE husband. There are no words to explain how thankful I am for all you’ve done and will continue to do for Knox and I. You are my great love story.


So, please pray for the following:

-All the medical personnel

-Great surgical outcomes

-Peace & Strength

-Accommodations in NYC

-Grandparents as they take care of Knox (he's a handful lol) 


#SamStrong


“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

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