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Diane Johansen

As an ovarian cancer survivor and woman who has lost her husband to Leukemia, Diane Johansen is willing to do whatever it takes to create awareness and raise funds for cancer research.

Prior to being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Diane had undergone two knee replacements enabling her to live an active life style. During a workout with her trainer she suddenly felt like she was balancing on a ball inside her abdomen and later that day she experienced terrible stomach pains. The pain persisted and came back sharply after each workout.

Diane went to her doctor and was sent for an ultrasound. When the results came back her doctor had seen a 16.5 cm tumor and Diane was told there was a very good chance it was cancer. “I was a mess,” Diane recalls. Two weeks later, Diane went in for surgery and was operated on by Dr. Dianne Miller, Co-founder of OVCARE. Diane was thrilled when she heard that Dr.  Miller would perform her surgery, knowing she was in the best possible hands.

Diane held a family meeting with her two children to share the difficult news. Her son remembered that Diane had always dreamed of going on a family trip to Hawaii so he booked the flights and accommodations so that Diane would have something to work towards. With this goal in mind, Diane was ready to fight the cancer.

“For me, losing my hair was the hardest part,” Diane says. Before her therapy began, she had a wig made that looked just like her natural hair. She wore this wig throughout her treatment and it enabled her to feel, and be treated, no different from anyone else.

Diane speaks highly of her oncologist, Dr. Anna Tinker, member of the OVCARE team. “She really gets me,” says Diane. Dr. Tinker not only treated her physical health but her mental health as well. Diane appreciated the time Dr Tinker took to talk and listen to her, even when she was extremely busy. “I can’t stress how fabulous she is.”

Diane went into remission soon after going through chemotherapy and radiation treatment and boarded a plane to Hawaii as she had promised her son she would. During the holiday Diane removed her wig in front of the family for the first time since she had lost her hair. Her two young granddaughters liked her new short curly gray hair—but told her not to cut it so short next time. Although Diane’s daughter couldn’t travel to Hawaii because she was pregnant, the upcoming birth of her grandson became Diane’s new reason to live.

The past year has been full of ups and downs for Diane and her family, always living with uncertainty about the future. Diane wants other women fighting this disease to know what an enormous impact staying positive truly has on helping to get better. She has received endless support from her doctors, friends and family and could not have come through this difficult experience without them all.

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Partners:

VGH/UBC Vancouver Coastal Health BC Cancer Foundation BC Cancer Agency UBC Faculty of Medicine