At 22, Johnetta Goolsby was studying to become a phlebotomist and was a busy mom to her then 2-year-old daughter, Payten. When she felt pain in her breast, she did a self-exam and found a lump. So, she went to the doctor with what was thought to be a breast infection. When the symptoms persisted, she underwent a biopsy. The diagnosis was stunning. She had breast cancer.
Concerned about being there for her daughter, she chose to undergo a double mastectomy. Post-surgery, she learned that her cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and was considered Stage 2. She had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Her final chemotherapy treatment was in April 2016. And she also underwent reconstructive surgery. Throughout 2017, she will make monthly visits to continue to be monitored.
Battling cancer, the critical need for blood and platelets hit close to home.
When she came out of surgery, her doctors and family told her she looked pale, because she had lost a lot of blood. She learned about the work of the American Red Cross to supply hospitals with donor blood, and was determined to do something to support the volunteers, sponsors and donors. Today, she serves on the Red Cross Southern Region’s Minority Recruitment Advisory Board and volunteers her time to promote blood and platelet donations. And she still plans to further her education in the medical field, still focusing on pediatric phlebotomy.
Johnetta shares her life experience with others. In 2016, she was one of five cancer survivors to receive a Diamond of Hope award at a reception sponsored by the Atlanta Braves. She was an honoree at the April Love Pink in December event, while still undergoing chemotherapy. She posted pictures of her experiences on Instagram at mommy1stsurvivor2nd, including a photo of her at an event, looking bold, bald and beautiful, dressed in pink (she wears a lot of pink!), with a huge smile on her face.
As she tells her story, she advises others to "Listen to your body, go to the doctor, go get checked out. And live your life to the fullest and be sure you're happy doing it.” She credits the support of her family and learning to “take it one day at a time” with getting her through this difficult time in her young life.
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