Patient’s calendars raising money for cancer centre
Bobbie Johnston is on a mission to pay forward the kindness she received during her treatment
A Niagara Falls woman is using her photography to make and sell calendars to benefit Walker Family Cancer Centre in St. Catharines — the same centre where she’s been undergoing treatment. Every penny Bobbie Johnston raises will be donated and whatever money she spends making the calendars will be her own contribution. “I don’t know how to make crafts and I don’t paint and I’m not real swift about doing anything, but I have all these pictures and I thought, I’m going to make calendars.” The 72-year-old woman has long been capturing the beautiful scenery on Dufferin Island and around the falls. “It saves my sanity.” Now, she can use her photos for good, she said: “So I feel like I actually did something useful with all these pictures I take.” Johnston’s journey at the Walker centre began in December 2018, when she felt a lump on her left breast. Tests revealed she had HER2-positive breast cancer, initially diagnosed at Stage 2 but upgraded to Stage 4 because of its aggressive onset. “It’s pretty scary when you think it came that fast,” Johnston said, noting she’d had a mammogram one year prior that came up clear. She had a mastectomy followed by eight rounds of chemotherapy so aggressive, she said, she had to give herself a shot in the stomach for eight days following the treatment to stimulate the production of red blood cells. She had started 14 rounds of Herceptin infusions to target any floating cancer cells but said that had to be put on hold as she is now being treated for congestive heart failure. “I try to think positive … it’s either that or drop dead,” she said, which is not an option considering she has a 26-year-old son with autism under her care. Her calendars are her way to say thank you to the doctors and nurses at the centre and other patients she’s met through Facebook who have been kind during her difficult time. Janice Giesbrecht, chief of oncology at Niagara Health and medical director of the Walker Family Cancer Centre, praised Johnston for her calendar idea. “Everybody has a different way of wanting to be involved, different skills and different connections in the community.” She said it’s common for a patient or a patient’s family to give back to the people who have cared for them — either by participating in big fundraisers such as the Rankin Run or the Big Move Cancer Ride, or through individual initiatives. “It’s just one of the huge rewards that we see and it speaks to part of the lived experience and how patients actually create positive things from an experience that can be difficult.” For some people, giving back can be part of the healing process. Giesbrecht said it’s amazing seeing people recognizing their challenges and taking steps to make the best of their situation, much like Johnston is doing. In just the first two days of selling her calendars on Facebook, Johnston said she already had $900 in sales, a response she said she wasn’t expecting but is thrilled with. “It’s making me feel like I’m paying it forward because so many people were nice to me.” Her calendars can be purchased as an 8x10 for $5 or a 5x7 for $3. They come in three themes — with photos of Niagara Falls, nature scenes or cardinals. To order a calendar, email Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bobbie Johnston, a Niagara Falls woman who has been undergoing cancer treatment, is selling calendars to give back to the Walker Family Cancer Centre.