Seeing Cancer Differently

Mimi Johnson is an art teacher at Londonderry High School and the past year and a half of her life has been anything but ordinary. In July of 2012, her older sister, Martha, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Martha was the first person in Mimi’s family to be diagnosed with any form of cancer, and it was a difficult time. Martha couldn’t be around family, friends, or strangers without wearing a mask and couldn’t even hold her young grandchildren.

It was determined the next course of action for Martha was to be a stem cell transplant. Doctors would first look to family as a match and then to a donor database. Mimi has had premonitions in the past and she was so sure that she was going to be the match for her sister. Friends and family warned Mimi not to get her hopes up, as the chance that a sibling would be a perfect match is 1 out of 4 but she remained certain. Of all Martha’s sisters tested to be a match, Mimi was the only match! On November 29, 2012, the stem cell transplant took place. The transplant saved Martha’s life and she has been cancer free for over a year. To celebrate her recovery and to help raise money for cancer research and other patients, the family participated in the Wakefield Light The Night Walk this past September as “Team Martha”. They raised $4,675 this year and already looking ahead with fundraising plans for this upcoming 2014 Walk!

Mimi, her fellow art teachers, and students at Londonderry High School wanted to do more to help. They decided to use their talents to create inspiring art pieces for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Massachusetts Chapter local office in Natick. They wanted to show cancer in an abstract way and bring some hope and motivation to LLS staff, volunteers, patients, and participants who frequent the office. Mimi and her sister Martha came to the office to hand deliver the twelve beautiful canvas pieces at the beginning of the month and now all the artwork is displayed around the office. The artwork is a daily reminder to all who see it that we can change the way cancer is seen.

-Written by Emily Hern: Light The Night staff, team captain, volunteer, and Team In Training (TNT) partcipant.

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 The artwork above is now proudly displayed throughout the Massachusetts Chapter office. We would like to thank Mimi Johnson as well as, the teachers and students of Londonderry High School who provided these incredible pieces of art.

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