Sam Johnson’s promise to sister Connie
THE BELOVED ACTOR MAKES A SOLEMN VOW TO HIS HERO SISTER AFTER HER DEVASTATING DEATH
As Australia prepares to say goodbye to Samuel Johnson’s brave and adored sister Connie this week, the actor has revealed his special promise to her: ‘I will help raise your boys.’
The 40-year-old mum – who became the face of breast cancer awareness through the Love Your Sister charity – lost her battle with the terminal disease, leaving behind sons Willoughby, 11, and Hamilton, 10.
Known affectionately as ‘Uncle Long Legs’, Sam has now vowed to help their father Michael raise the ‘fine, young men’ through the years, working to keep memories of their late mum alive.
‘I’m one of the closest links the children will have to their mother and I’m setting myself up to be the chief go-to guy if they ever have a question about [her],’ Samuel told New Idea. ‘These kids will know their mum long after Connie has moved on.
‘I’m very attached to these boys. It will be my honour to keep Connie alive for her kids.’
Samuel has spoken affectionately of his gorgeous nephews in the lead-up to Connie’s sad passing, revealing the magical bond he shares with the boys.
‘I try to bring a bit of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl into my relationship with them,’ he told New Idea. ‘They honestly believe I can fly, and are convinced as long as they keep eating their fruit and vegetables, then coins will keep appearing from their hearts.’
Prior to her sad passing, Connie also opened up about the joy Samuel has brought to the young boys’ lives.
‘Every family’s got that favourite uncle – the guy who wrestles with the kids, plays hide-and-seek and jokes with them,’ she told New Idea.
‘He’s the laugh-a-lot uncle – that’s who Sam is.’
In another interview, Connie revealed how much she and Sam struggled with their mother’s suicide when they were both very young – and how it pained her to think of her boys experiencing a similar loss.
‘[Willoughby and Hamilton] were three and four when I was diagnosed, and Sam and I were three and four when our mum died and we have no memories of our mum,’ she revealed. ‘That was very hard, thinking my children wouldn’t remember me. Now I know they are old enough to have a memory of me. It may be weird little memories, but at least they will have them for the rest of their lives.’ Samuel’s Love Your Sister campaign has seen him raise millions, with the Logie-winner vowing to retire from acting until the charity reaches $10 million. As part of his plan to raise awareness, Samuel completed a world record-breaking 15,955km unicycle ride – which made Connie the face of the campaign as a result. The hero mum has battled cancer for three decades, after first being diagnosed with bone cancer at 11, suffering a tumour in her womb at 22, and then being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer on son Willoughby’s fourth birthday.
After the devastating news, Samuel asked Connie how he could help – and this lead to the Love Your Sister legacy.
‘In a moment that changed my life I said: “What do you want your legacy to be?”’ he told the ABC. ‘And Connie breathed in with what I like to say was more gravitas than the Queen of England, and decided then and there that she wanted to remind every young mum in the land to check their boobs. Because mums just forget about their health – your children just come first – and you end up putting your own health issues further down the line.’
The charity’s awareness campaign has already lead to many Australian women seeking treatment after being diagnosed early, which brought Connie much joy in her last few years.
‘It makes me feel that if I’d been diagnosed early, I would never have started Love Your Sister – and those women might be really sick in a few years,’ she told New Idea. ‘So maybe what’s happened to me has happened for a reason.’
Inviting Connie’s millions of Aussie supporters from around the country to attend her funeral, Samuel has described this Saturday’s farewell as a celebration of her rich life: ‘It will be more like a party.’
In her last interview on August 31, Connie revealed her final message to the world.
‘Thank you for the love, thank you for the support, thank you for the friendship. Live each day, notice the nice moments and now is awesome,’ she said.
Main photos: Tina Smigielski NI
MELISSA DOYLE CARRIE BICKMORE REBECCA GIBNEY Sam shared an open invitation to Connie’s funeral on Facebook. Connie and Sam won hearts and saved lives across the country through the Love Your Sister legacy (right) – which has raised more than $7 million for breast cancer research.