She spent a lifetime helping others
A nurse from Northern Bay who became a voice for breast cancer patients during the controversial Cameron inquiry on hormone receptor testing and spent a lifetime helping others passed away earlier this month.
And ironically, it was breast cancer that claimed the life of Mercedes Sellars ( Johnson) on Sept. 2. She was 49.
“She was one-of-a-kind,” said her sister, Bernice Johnson, who still resides in Northern Bay.
Sellars was first diagnosed with breast cancer about five years ago, and felt she had beaten the disease. In fact, she was celebrating her good health on a vacation to Cuba with friends in April.
During the flight back, Sellars came to the aid of another male passenger who had gone into cardiac arrest. She saved his life, Bernice said.
But just days after returning home, she feel ill. The cancer was back, and it had spread.
“It was devastating for the whole family,” Bernice stated.
Sellars was an outreach nurse with the Crisis Centre in St. John’s, and part of her job involved interacting and supporting those who are less fortunate and in need of help.
She was even known to bring her quitar and play music for those enjoying a meal at the Gathering Place, which is run by the Presentation Sisters, Bernice added.
She was well-suited to public health nursing, say colleagues and friends, and she gave a lot to her community and work.
Sellars was director of the Newfoundland branch of the Canadian Breast Cancer Network, which was a volunteer position. It was in this capacity that she began speaking out during the breast cancer testing scandal, and the subsequent inquiry. She regularly spoke out in the media and made presentations to government officials in response to the findings of the inquiry.
She was the ninth of 11 children born to John and Bridget Johnson of Northern Bay. Her father is deceased, but her 90-year-old mother resides in a nursing home in St. John’s.
“Mercedes spent a lifetime serving the community and she made so many friends,” Bernice noted.
While working in Gander in the 1990s, it was her efforts that saved a child after the boy was hit by a vehicle.
“The paramedics had pronounced him dead. But she kept working on him and he survived,” Bernice said.
As as a young person, she received the Governor-General’s Award for her part in the rescue of two girls who were in danger of drowning.
“ That was Mercedes. Always there for other people,” said Bernice.
Sellars is survived by her husband, Barry Sellars, and their two sons, ages 11 and 20.
Mercedes Sellars ( Johnson), originally from Northern Bay, passed away earlier this month following complications from breast cancer.