Faces of a Warrior: Dortell Johnson

Stories of Surviving and Thriving

August 20, 2017
Categories: 

Age: 61    
Profession: Customer Service Manager
Breast Cancer Type: Ductal Carcinoma Insitu Left Breast, Invasive Breast Cancer Right Breast 
Year of Diagnosis: 2003
Number of Years as Survivor: 14
Relationship to Susan G. Komen: Race participant 


In August 2003 during my yearly routine mammogram, a mass was discovered in my left breast. A biopsy was performed and the results provided me with a diagnosis of Ductal Carcinoma Insitu. In September, I had a lumpectomy followed by 33 radiation treatments and a 5 year prescription of Tamoxifen. 

I figured I was done with my fight, but I was wrong. Eight years later, in 2011, the cancer returned stronger than before, this time as Invasive Breast Cancer in my right breast.

At that moment, faced with two diagnosis after the age of 40 and being at a premenopausal age, I decided to proceed with BRCA testing. The BRCA test was positive for BRCA 2, meaning it was very likely that I would have a reoccurrence of cancer. The result also meant that there was also a possibility I could eventually develop ovarian cancer. I had to make a tough decision, either take my chances and hope that cancer wouldn’t come back for a third bout or remove my entire breast. 

With my husband's support I chose to have a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. Knowing that my odds of developing ovarian cancer were imminent I also had a salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of my fallopian tubes & ovaries) on October 16, 2012. Thankfully, during the post-surgery follow-up exam my doctor advised me that I was cancer free! 

Knowing that I am cancer free, I now look forward to yearly exams. In hindsight, if it had not been for my faith in God, the love of my family, the support of my church and all the people that I work with, I could not have made it through this. It was a very difficult moment in my life! Fortunately, I am still here to tell all women how important mammograms and annual checkups are. 

Being the first in my family to test for BRCA, and while 3 sisters and a niece found out they had breast cancer after my diagnosis, I will continue to tell my family to get tested. My husband has since passed, but I refuse to throw a pity party because he was a very integral part of my recovery. 

As a survivor, I feel empowered to tell women everywhere to get a yearly mammogram, it saved my life. My journey is still not over, but I refuse to give up!

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About the Faces of a Warrior Campaign

In 2015, to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Race for the Cure®, Susan G. Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale teamed with 101.5 LITE FM to launch the Faces of a Warrior campaign. 

To mark the 22nd Annual Race for the Cure®, Komen is spotlighting 22 survivors to represent each year the Race has run. These individuals are sharing their stories of strength and resilience -- not just of surviving breast cancer, but thriving in spite of it.

Read the stories of more Warriors here

For more information on the Faces of a Warrior campaign -- and other ways you can get involved in the Race for the Cure® -- please email [email protected] or call 954-909-0454