Local shares her breast cancer journey

Local businesswoman Anni van der Westhuizen and breast cancer survivor Larissa
Johnson are hoping locals will help support breast cancer research during Breast Cancer
Awareness Month in October.

One local resident, who’s just been diagnosed
with her fourth lot of breast cancer,
is hoping that Cobar women will be proactive
when it comes to their breast health
Larissa Johnson, who’s just 33 and has recently
been diagnosed for the fourth time with
breast cancer, first found a lump in her breast
at age 26.
“I was breastfeeding at the time and didn’t
think much of it,” Larissa recalls.
“When I got around to having it checked
about six months later they found it was 8cm.
“You just don’t think it could be cancer at
“Even my doctor said “You’re too young for
“And when they say that the room goes
completely black when you get bad news like
that, that’s exactly what happened to me.”
Larissa’s second diagnosis came not long
“It was just a week off my two year remission,”
she said.
And then when Larissa was again diagnosed
with a lump in the same breast for a third time,
she underwent genetic testing and found she
carried the BRCA1 positive gene, which
meant she had an increased risk of developing
breast cancer.
For much of the past five years, Larissa has
been living in Broken Hill where she’s been
receiving her cancer treatment.
She’s just recently returned from a biopsy
and will start chemical treatment with medication
in an effort to shrink the lump.
Her Oncologist said they expect the next
step will be a mastectomy.
Larissa said it’s definitely been “a journey”
and she’s grateful for the support she’s received
from her family.
“There’s been times when I’ve been really
sick and the kids have handled it really well,”
she said.
While she’s previously kept the news of her
cancer within her family, she hopes that talking
about it now publicly will encourage other
women to get checked.
She hopes locals will also donate to support
more research into breast cancer.