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Help Samantha Johansen Fight Cancer

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Raised by 51 people in 13 months
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After years of trying to have a baby, Samantha and Fred Johansen’s prayers were answered. 

Frederick Knox was born on November 4, 2016. Samantha is tough, but tiny – so carrying an 8lb + baby wasn’t easy (carrying babies in general isn’t easy!). Surprisingly, symptoms and pains that were associated with pregnancy didn’t go away as expected. Just 7 weeks after Knox’s birth, tests revealed a tumor. Days later, Sam was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colorectal Cancer with numerous metastatic tumors on her liver. 

Family, church family, friends and colleagues know that Sam is a ray of sunshine. Her outer beauty is nothing compared to her amazing kindness, compassion and selflessness. She is joyful and loving – and she is determined to fight AND beat this. 

Sam is deeply loved by so many people. Now is the time she needs your love, prayers and support as she undergoes treatment. First and foremost, please pray for Sam, her new baby, Fred and her family. Second believe in Sam and her strength to kick this awful disease. And finally, please consider providing financial support – in any amount – to help the Johansen family with lost wages, travel and other unexpected expenses related to Sam’s treatment.

You can support Sam by making a donation. Please encourage your friends and family to do the same by sharing this page widely and frequently. Your generosity will mean everything to Samantha, her family, and friends.

A note from Sam….

Everyone has a story... this is just a chapter in mine. It’s a surreal feeling as a 33-year-old healthy and active woman hearing you have stage 4 Colorectal Cancer.  Barely 2 months after giving birth to our son, Knox.

Countless thoughts, scenarios and feelings run through your mind as you try to piece it all together. This however, I know to be true... I serve a big God, one that saves, one that heals and one that has a plan for my life. So as I begin the fight of my life, all I can ask for are your prayers, encouragement, love and support – not just for me, but for my husband Fred, our newborn baby Knox and the rest of our family and friends.

I know that second to my faith the thing that will get me through this is my army of family and friends. Just over the past few weeks I am overwhelmed with the amount of energy, time and dedication my team has put into getting me the best possible treatment. 

Fred, my Husband, my Warrior, my Best Friend – God has put you in my life for such a time as this.  Words cannot express how hopeful and inspired I am as I watch you cope with this.   I know that our love will only grow stronger as we walk this road hand-in-hand. I wouldn't want anyone else in my corner.  

Sabrina, my cup runneth over, you are my Sister, and I love you so much.  

My parents, you have taught me so much throughout my life how to be kind, thoughtful, loving but most importantly how to have faith and the power of prayer. I love you both with all my heart.

The Johansen's thank you for accepting me as your own. Your love, encouragement is overwhelming. Thank you for taking such good care of Knox while we're away getting treatment.

Jess, I cannot find the words to express the love I have for you.  Our friendship is everything to me.  

Kim, you never cease to amaze me. I am so incredibly blessed to have you in my life not just as a boss, but as a friend and mentor. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you do for me.

My squad, my girls... all your love, encouragement, prayers, dinners, cards, trips to Disney, etc. you're the BEST – I love you. 

To the rest of my family, friends and community... this is not going to be easy. Thank you for your support, making me laugh, getting me out of the house...Together we will fight the good fight, and our Faith will sustain us. 

God did not intend us to do life alone, so with you all by my side, I know we will get through this.  


I can do all this through him who gives me strength.- Philippians 4:13
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-CALIFORNIA DREAMIN'-
As I sat (in the middle seat) on my flight home from visiting my sister in LA, I was reminded how blessed I am. To have been able to take last week off chemo, to be strong enough to travel across the country, to have the energy to explore that crazy city and dance like no one was watching at Bruno Mars.

I often wish Knox had a sibling (which isn't happening unless God brings about some miracle) because I don't know what I'd do without my sister. We've always been close, but doing life together these days is so much more precious then it's ever been. Sabrina, I am beyond thankful for you. Your encouragement, laughter, love, thoughtfulness, wisdom and generosity continues to bless my life in only ways a sister can. I am so proud of you - keep exhaling hope, joy, peace, faith, beauty, humility and your kind heart to all that live in that interesting city you call home.

Oh! And make sure you follow her on IG @FitFabulousForgiven and listen to her podcast next Monday, October 29! She has a VERY special guest. wink, wink.

-A LITTLE WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE-
I said it (well, technically Mike Tyson did) last time but I'll say it again... "everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."

This time last year we headed to NYC for my liver resection and ileostomy reversal. But, Fred and I had a gut feeling that our trip would not go as planned.

Side note: gut feelings, for me at least, are NOT good. "Don't ever trust your gut, it may be diarrhea." - yours truly

Anywho, when our flight to LGA circled for 45 minutes, landed at DCA, we were told everyone would need to deplane (on the jetway) and all 150+ passengers would be BUSSED to New York's LaGuardia airport - we knew we were in for a treat. And not a yummy one. My stomach couldn't handle a 7 hour bus ride so we rented and car and drove.

From what I recall, we arrived in the city around 3am. My surgery was scheduled for 8am.

But things only seemed to get worse. Life's punches became relentless, one right after another.

After hours of prep and waiting, my liver surgeon, Dr. D'Angelica would tell us that he would NOT be resecting my liver. I simply wasn't strong enough to withstand that type of surgery. My heart became battered and bruised, my soul scarred and scabbed with disappointment and sadness. Feeling numb with rage, paralyzed with grief.

But when we retreat and refuse to feel the pain of our disappointment, then we're not really trusting God. We're using him. Peaks are nice, but you don't see many farms on mountaintops. Why? Because things grow better in the valleys.

I remember Fred putting his head on my bed and we just cried. BUT, (there's always a but) both the doctor and God knew I wasn't ready. And looking back it was one of the best decisions we ever forced to make.

Dr. Paty proceeded with the ileostomy reversal. Which out of all 5 surgeries was the longest recovery. I can't image trying to heal from both that and the removal of almost 70% of my liver.

Immediately after returning home I would begin 4 weeks of TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) and walked 3 miles/day...well, maybe not every day. From November 4 (the day we got home) until December 5 (the day we left for liver surgery) I went from a mere 55lbs to a whopping 70 and was in decent shape. To this day, Dr. D'Angelica is still my favorite surgeon. He wasn't messing around, he was wicked smart and willing to take a big risk on me as long as I followed his direction. Because of his tenacity and detailed plan he was able to do the resection - which in my opinion, saved my life.

-UNTETHERED-
Have you ever woken up one day only to realize you were burnt out? Discouraged. That little orange light comes on, telling you that your faith tank is dangerously low.

Suddenly, getting out of bed in the morning feels intimidating. You can't imagine how you're going to get through the rest of this morning, let alone an entire day.

When I don't know whether the radiation and chemo will work or whether we can afford this or that, why Knox is going through the terrible 2's and he's not even 2 yet, or why this precious angel named Rowen is suffering from heart failure at 3 yrs old. It's hard to believe that praying, trusting and hoping will make a difference. It's hard to keep the faith when you have so little control over everything else in your life.

I've said this before and I truly believe it to be true. People may tell you that God won't give you more than you can bear. While they probably mean well, that's simply not true. He often gives us more than we can handle, so we can learn to depend wholly on him.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

-ROUND 3 (DING, DING)-
Coach is putting me back in the ring today, as I face this well known heavy weight known as Fulfox + Avastin. Aka chemo. I'll be at UF Cancer Center for roughly 5 hours as they infuse bags and bags of stuff into my port that makes me pee no less than 10 times. Sorry, TMI.

So for the next week, please forgive me in advance if I don't respond to messages right away. I'll be feeling hungover from all the yucky stuff, not to mention having flu-like symptoms from that darn Neulasta.

Good News though! We received approval from Dr. Kemeny at Memorial Sloan to get my next CT and labs done locally which will save us a trip to NYC!!!! It's scheduled for November 15.

In the meantime, Knox will have his first Halloween parade at school on the 31st, then my parents and sister are visiting for Knox's 2nd, my mom's 70th and my sister's 34 birthdays! We will enjoy spending time with both families to celebrate these 3 awesome people. Then before we know it, it'll be Thanksgiving and then Christmas! Trying to stay encouraged as we have lots of joyful things to look forward to.

-PRAYER REQUESTS-
- a CLEAR CT scan, complete healing
- weight gain
- peace, provision, wisdom
- our family as we continue to deal with this physical and emotional battle
- unspoken requests
- Praise: (yes, it's still important to thank him for the good things too) thankful for my time spent with my sister in LA
- Praise: looking forward to visiting with family and celebrating life

To raise awareness, share our story on IG @SammiJohansen and Facebook - Samantha Johansen


#SamStrong
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"Whatever I have,
whereever I am,
I can make it through ANYTHING
in the One
who makes me
who I am."
Phil 4

-CHAMP OF THE WORLD (aka Knox Johansen)-
The first question I'm usually asked is, "how's your little guy?" Well, he's not so little - he's about half my size and busier than ever. Knox turns 2 on November 4.

Mom sent me this daily devotional entitled "Be Still - Daily Encouragement for Moms."

Be Still... one of my favorite sayings.

The very first sentence says "Moms are some of the fiercest (another favorite word), most powerful creatures on the planet. It goes on to say "We have the power to influence not only our own kids, but also the world for generations to come by the ways we love, nurture, and lead."

Knox is amazing! He's smart, funny, talented and the joy of my life. He LOVES trucks, being outside, reading books, the movies The Lion King and Cars, running to "on your mark - get set - GO!", all food, his stuffed animals, tormenting Cassius, hanging with the Johansen and Seidman families and cuddling with mommy and daddy. So it kind of goes without saying, he's perfectly imperfect.

-GIMME THE HARD STUFF-
Permission granted to have full access to my mess. Want in?

Mike Tyson said it - "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."

I feel like a mixed bag of emotions. Like the jelly beans with surprise flavors where you can't see the difference between booger or buttered popcorn (both gross). I'm standing on shaky legs but darn it - I'm still standing!

I've cried so many tears, I can't cry anymore. Including those silent sobs over plates of pasta. I simply can't understand why the God who has the power to change my circumstances, the one who elevated David from a simple shepherd boy to the king of a nation, won't do it. I pour myself out like I'm in my own garden of Gesthemane - I've wept on my knees. But then I've composed. I've prayed honest words. I've spoken truth of character. And I've remembered... The devil does not write the story here. And he doesn't get to control it. I won't let him.

Recently, my faith seems to have been on life support, but oddly enough I feel encouraged. My faith will survive; it will grow and strengthen. I'm sure of it.

Maybe in some strange way, God allows us to doubt him sometimes. Maybe he knows that's one of the ways for our faith to grow stronger. One of the best ways.

But for the most part, I'm trying to live that piece of that "peace that passing understanding" in life.

-WE'RE ALL FINE-
People keep asking how I am and I'm not really sure how to answer. Because I'm fine. I mean - I'm NOT fine, I'm back on chemo, experiencing flu like symptoms from Neulasta, my body aches from head to toe, some nausea and diarrhea. Then there's Knox, he turns 2 in a few weeks so there's stuff to plan, his class is doing a Halloween parade so he needs a costume, my 95 year old grandma isn't doing great, my aunt lost her hair and is very sick from chemo, my angel of a mom is being stretched like taffy, my sweet sister is doing all she can to help from across the country, the Johansen clan continues to be our saving grace, meanwhile Fred is trying to take care of us and provide and and and and... I'm fine. You're fine, I'm fine... we're all fine.

I do not depend well. It comes from the life I've lead as an event planner: solver of all problems. Rolled into motherhood. But dependence where you cannot function unless you rely - has evaded me. Somedays are easier than others.

So what's the plan?

I will remain on this chemo until early December.

5FU (the name is so fitting).
Every other week, I spend about 6 hours in outpatient getting infused with fluids, Zometa, Avastin, Oxaliplatin, Leucovorin, Zofran and some other steroid. Nurses then hook me up to the 5FU bag which drips over 48 hrs. I essentially have a new bff for 2 days - it goes everywhere with me. It's attached to my hip... well, my port.

After completion, I go back to the hospital where they disconnect me and slap that sweet Neulatsa sticker/injection on the back of my arm. It takes 27 hours to infuse. After which I can remove it like a bandaid and carry on with my night. Well I usually go straight to bed.

For the next few days I sleep, pop Zofran like tic tacs and take Claritin to help with body aches. My gums feel like a teething toddlers. My mind is like an internet browser; 19 tabs open, 3 of them are frozen and I have no idea where the music is coming from.

It usually takes me about a week to feel 75%.

-#BROKENRECORD-
I am endlessly moved by the flood of people who have connected and reached out. It is noted in my heart - please excuse if I cannot return all messages immediately. Chemo brain in full effect. I do however, feel very loved and protected.

Our prayer requests continue:
- that this chemo is working (killing every cancerous cell in my body)
- weight gain (story of my life)
- peace and provision
- complete healing. full and complete - and swift.
- our family as we continue to deal with this physical and emotional battle
- unspoken request
- praise: babies JT and Olivia are doing great!
- wisdom and encouragement for my mom and uncle as they try to find the best care for my grandma
- aunt and uncle as they deal with her breast cancer
- Gigi, Papa, Uncle Ryan and Chris as they help care for Knox
- my dear friend lost her home in Hurricane Michael: prayers of protection, wisdom, and provision for her sweet family (and others who were affected by this devastating disaster)

-TO GIVE IS TO RECEIVE-
Kathy Calvin, CEO & President of the United Nations Foundation said "Giving is not just about making a donation, it's about making a difference." Your support is still helpful and very much appreciated.

Go Fund Me. Venmo. Paypal. Snail mail. Whatever suits your fancy.

I honestly feel a gross amount of peace. I'm sure I shouldn't with so much going on. But I can say "I believe that You are good" and mean it through my bones. Even still. Praying for full, miraculous, speedy healing that surprises everyone.

#SamStrong
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"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."
― Maya Angelou

When the currents of life rages all around me I remind myself to BE STILL. I remember GOD is always there. In the middle of every storm and trial HE whispers my name, and I hear Him. He calls me to draw near and in those moments my soul is restored.

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald

In the first days of June, I received the greatest gift someone battling cancer can receive… a clear scan. My heart overjoyed, my soul cried thank you! I had climbed the mountain and stood tall basking in God’s grace and merciful love. But this Summer proved to be a tale of two seasons. When I was told that there were new tumors growing in July, I felt like I did after the first diagnosis. It's a long-long way to the top but the fall happens in a flicker of time.

POW! BAM! ZAP!

Radiation is no joke. You're chugging along feeling Okay then BAM! You wake up completely exhausted and in some legit pain. Over 3 weeks I received 15 radiation treatments on my pelvis bone in an attempt to kill this tumor that according to the Dr, . already grew right through my bone. As if radiation treatment wasn’t enough, I took chemo pills daily to help contain the metastatic spots in my lungs.

But by far the hardest part of this last treatment battle was being away from Knox.

I cried. every. single. day. Every day my heart ached to hug him, kiss him, hear him say “Mama”. Tears fill my eyes now just writing about it.

Fred reminded me everyday that I was 12-days away, 1-week away, 2-days away from “Ringing that Championship Bell.” I found out when I got home he was referencing a football movie. Any guesses?

With my husband, sister, facetime with my baby Boo, friends, family, a lot of sleep, your continued support & prayers and Jesus– on Tuesday August 28, I completed radiation and rang that (DING! DING! DING!)..

Another Mountain Conquered, Another Tumble Down.

The very next day I had another CT scan and a consult with Dr. Kemeny. That morning's scan showed that the lung spots continued to grow despite the chemo I was taking. So what does that mean?

I'll be starting a stronger chemo cocktail (FOLFOX) that infuses into me through a bag that goes everywhere I do over 2 days. I’ll be on this FOLFOX regiment for the next two months. The goal is to shrink the lung lung spots enough for another round of ablations and/or surgery. So this is setting up for another dramatic scan and treatment plan in mid-November.

Fred, in times of chaos and despair, BE STILL my warrior and know that I love you - unconditionally. For over a decade you have fought for me, loved me and been my rock. God has blessed me with you, and I am so grateful I get to do life with you. The destination isn’t important, as long as we’re together in the journey.

Sister, I have always admired you, your strength, spirit and heart. I appreciate you taking time off work to take care of me. I love with all my heart! I look forward to coming to LA and spending time with you over the holidays.

The Mogulls, you are my family. Thank you for taking us into your home of peace. You all are a blessing like no other and your home is a safe haven rest and rejuvenate. We appreciate you so much - just the joy, laughter, deep conversations... every minute spent with your family is a fond memory that fills my heart with love.

The Taylors! From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU for letting us stay in your gorgeous home. There were many nights I just sat, mesmerized by the spectacular views of NYC. Nicole, thank you for everything you’ve done. You and Jonathan are such a blessing. We are beyond grateful!

Not long ago, my sister asked me what are 3 things that I've learned from this experience?

1) What unconditional love is and feels like. It's the most incredible feeling knowing you are loved no matter what I look like or feel like. Fred loves me on my darkest days, days where I’m in my hole deep down within myself, days when I'm sick, days when the only times I get out of bed are to use the bathroom, long hair, short hair, joyful or depressed….I know I am loved. We’re just two imperfect people trying to make it through this obstacle course we call life. Together... through sickness and health and everything in between.

2) With so many awful stories of young men and women losing their battle with cancer, stress, illness, etc. I sometimes wonder how I'm still here. I was down to 55lbs at this time last year! But I do know this - God has provided, He has never left me nor forsaken me, He loves me and gives me strength beyond anything I could imagine. Through different experiences in my life, He has definitely used those to prepare me for such a time as this.

3) The Sam Strong Support System is nothing short of a God thing. He has strategically placed people in mine and Fred's lives to help get us through this. Complete strangers and people I haven't seen or spoken to in years have reached out in one way or another. Thoughtful people across the world are praying! Wow! My glitter cup runneth over.

Sometimes I find myself on social media wishing I could be on that vacation, wanting this new outfit, jewelry, makeup, etc. Its so easy to get caught up in things that hold no eternal value. After all you can't take your stuff with you. So I'd rather spend time making cherished memories. Having said that...

I'm headed back to New York Fashion Week 2.0.!!!!

Michael Galanes has asked me to walk in his Wow Wear show again. What an honor! The fashion show will be held on Saturday, September 15 from 8pm - 10pm in the Crystal Ballroom at the Wyndham New Yorker hotel in NYC.

Heres to making dreams come true since 1992. I love you Michael Galanes!

It was brought to my attention the other day that sometimes the only encounter people will ever have with God is through you.

I am far from perfect, but I am mindful of this. As a daughter of the King it is my duty to shine his light as much as possible. Over the past 19 months I've met so many incredible people... from Uber drivers, to passengers on planes, Doctors, Nurses, random people that have chosen to follow my story on social media, I could go on and on. But it's true - the only encounter they may ever have with God may be through you. Noodle on that...

It's your pain that brings you to your purpose.

I'm still trying to figure this one out but I do know my purpose right now is to fight this cancer, get better, be a loving and supportive wife, protect, teach and love on Knox, be a thoughtful and caring daughter, sister, friend and a reflection of our Father in heaven.

I feel like a broken record, but I'd like to thank each and every one of you who have donated money, time, prayers, resources, etc. Every dollar is a blessing and prayer answered.

Prayer Requests:

- Pain, fatigue and side effects from treatment remain tolerable

- Severe fatigue subsides

- New chemo cocktail shrinks nodules on my lungs so we can ablate.

- "Unspoken" requests - miracles needed

You only live once, but if you do it right once is enough.
― Mae West

Fighting the Good Fight of Faith.

#SamStrong
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I’m tired.... tired of radiation, tired of chemo, tired of being told to eat and I’m too thin, tired of living out of a suitcase, tired of NY, tired of the fast pace, tired of hospitals, tired of short hair, tired of dragging my family through this emotional rollercoaster, tired of missing my son, tired of wondering if the chemo and radiation is doing its job, emotionally tired, physically tired... I’m tired of being tired. Lord give me strength.Can I get an Amen? #1moreweek #colorectalcancer #SamStrong #fightthegoodfight #tired
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Raised by 51 people in 13 months
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