SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Tuesday marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to stress the importance of breast health education.
Survivors of breast cancer, like Jill Johns, know firsthand how critical raising awareness can be.
Known for her sparkly personality and entrepreneur strength, Johns helps small business owners promote leadership and wellness with their staff. It serves as an opportunity to share her own health experience to drive the message of self-care.
Johns recently shared her story at the Thrive Lowcountry Women’s Conference.
In 2015, one month after she turned 40, Johns said she had her first mammogram. She was in the car with her husband when she got word of the results.
“I was in the passenger’s seat. I can just remember a tear coming out of my eye. I’m thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, really?'” Johns remembered.
“It was the last thing that was on my mind. And I even said the words, ‘I don’t have time for breast cancer,'” she added.
Admittedly, the wife and mother of four said she did not make breast self-exams a priority.
“No family history. I also had small breasts, so there was just a lot of belief around, ‘This is never going to happen. This is not a disease for me.’ So I did not have a regular practice,” Johns explained.
Grateful her cancer was caught at stage 0, Johns’ comeback is her give back.
She lives her life in the public eye, from delivering a TEDx Talk on self-care to co-hosting a podcast on upgrading self-care and running a cancer support group. Johns is the first certified Breast Patient Navigator in Statesboro.
“Making sure that people are familiar and aware of what they need to do for themselves on a monthly basis and making sure that they’re getting their screenings,” Johns says of her work. “Because I do truly believe that that early screening of mine catching it as early as we possibly did is what allows me to be here today.”
Johns says she is now working on her doctorate in public health to improve community education and support local cancer patients and survivors.
She encourages women to advocate for themselves and feel empowered to ask questions about breast health.
Follow Buddy Check 3 all month long as we share Breast Cancer Awareness stories, like Johns’.