Educator of the Month: Cynthia Johnson
Cynthia is a “Cali girl” living in Houston, TX, who works in higher education assessment and administration. She also enjoys doing graphic design and genealogy.
She was 39 when she found a lump in her breast, just one year before she could begin her mammograms. After her treatment, she stumbled upon #knowyourlemons on social media and decided to become a Global Educator to help spread awareness and teach those around her. Here is Cynthia’s story:
“It has been three years since my diagnosis and a little less than two and a half years since the end of my treatment which was lumpectomy, chemo, and radiation. I am now 18 months into hormone therapy which is a monthly injection and daily pill I will continue for 5-10 years.
After I was diagnosed, I started following various breast cancer pages on social media and came across #knowyourlemons and the 12 signs image on Instagram. The images caught my eye and I began to share them. My friends and family began to comment that the images were really helpful and that they enjoyed learning via the illustrations and imagery.
The KYL material helped me get familiar with my breasts and my “new normal” after my surgery, so that I could be aware of any new changes.
Two years after my surgery, I came home one day, undressed, and saw that my breast was completely different. I had developed a good three or four of the symptoms and because I knew the 12 breast changes to look out for, I knew to call my oncologist immediately. I could describe better the things I was seeing and feeling because of Know Your Lemons. Luckily, it was a seroma (not cancer) but because I knew my lemons, I knew immediately what to do when I noticed a change.
I have shared my journey publicly since the beginning and I love the #knowyourlemons images because I feel they make it very easy to understand. I wanted to have a little more credibility and share beyond just my story and I knew the Know Your Lemons Foundation could help me with that, so I became a Global Educator with them.
My teaching experience so far has been incredible! I hosted a virtual event last year for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the response blew my mind! We had a great response and quite a few Caribbean countries tuned in which was amazing since I have Barbadian roots.
To know that I can make an impact far beyond my front door is inspiring and makes me want to do more. It means the world to me to be able to help other women understand and take control of their breast health.
I was thirsty for information when I was diagnosed, not just the doom and gloom the internet can bring, but truly helpful information that is life saving while still being light hearted and easy to digest. Those who have taken my classes have stated that they feel more knowledgeable, that they have been motivated to do self checks and get their annual screenings now. Others have been encouraged to go see their doctors because there have been concerns they have put off.
The best part about being a “Lemonista” educator is that it provides the tools for me to be the type of breast cancer advocate I want to be. It allows me to provide actionable steps and verified information along with my personal story to reach people.
Early detection is so important and equipping people with the proper knowledge can help ensure that they have the necessary tools to catch any issues early and understand their risk factors. I tell all my friends to ‘know their lemons.’ The more familiar they are with their lemons the more likely they are to notice even subtle changes that might make all the difference should they ever be diagnosed.
The Know Your Lemons campaign, app, and educator community are quite simply making lemonade out of the lemons that so many are given when diagnosed. KYL is making the best of what can be a bad situation through education and empowerment.
Cynthia, thank you for sharing your inspiring story! You are an inspiring Global Educator and we are thrilled to have you with us!
If YOU would like to join our Global Educators Program, apply here to become a volunteer Lemonista, teaching those around you through classes (online or in person), or host a Know Your Lemons app party (find out more here) in a more informal way. We would love for you to be part of our mission of saving lives, starting with your family and friends. xoxo