It’s hard to come to terms with, but Connie Johnson is preparing to say goodbye.
After seven years battling breast cancer she’s tired, and she knows tomorrow’s Big Heart Project, where she’s aiming to raise $1 million for cancer research, will be her “last hurrah”.
“My health is declining quite rapidly and I don’t think Christmas is on my radar,” she told me as we sat, holding hands on her lounge.
“I’ve got the Big Heart Project to distract me and also keep me busy and make me focus on something other than myself. Over the past seven years I’ve gone into some very deep pits of despair. I feel like if I wasn’t focused on the Big Heart Project right now maybe that’s where I would be,” she says.
Connie stopped treatment for breast cancer in January and wants to spend her precious remaining days with her partner and two young boys Willoughby, 10 and Hamilton, nine.
“Sometimes they ask me how I’m doing and I’ll say I’m feeling OK, consequently they’ll ask whether we can go to the movies,” Connie chuckles.
“Sometimes I see them grappling with what it means when Mum can’t get out of bed for a whole day.”
“I feel like I’m letting them down while I can’t be the Mum I want to be as a result. I just don’t have the strength”.
Between Connie, her brother Sam and the LYS community they’ve raised almost $4.5 million in the fight against cancer.
Connie wants us to build a giant heart of 5 cent coins, at the Lyneham Netball Courts in Canberra.
The coins will be laid out as thousands of Canberrans. A huge contingent of interstate supporters travel to support Connie becaue they want to say goodbye.
For Connie, it’s about retiring on a high and thanking the Love Your Sister Village for all they have done. The “Vollies” as Connie calls them have been working tirelessly for months from Connie’s house preparing for tomorrow.
“I’ve done a lot of thinking about how it’s going to feel afterwards” says Connie. “I’m worried that I’m going to miss the buzz of activity. Also, I’m worried that I’m going to miss the Vollies since we have become so close.”
The world record for the longest line of coins is 75.4kms and is held by a town in Austria. Connie wants to smash that, she wants the heart to be big enough to be visible from space.
Both Connie and Sam will be at the Lyneham Netball Courts throughout the day, while gates open at 7am. Every cent raised is going to where it counts — Australian cancer researchers.
Connie wants one thing from us tomorrow.
“As you throw your coins into the heart,” she said, “think about a world without cancer. Think about what that bucket of 5 cent heroes can do.
“And think about how you can be a part of the moon shot, to get rid of cancer forever.”
For those who can’t get to Canberra, you can also donate online.