“I don’t like things to be different in my life because of the cancer. It was very hard in the beginning, but The Gina McReynolds Foundation has given us that positive boom. They’ve been just incredible to us”

 

christinaShe was used to training for triathlons and obstacle courses. But Christina Johnston never thought her biggest obstacle would be cancer.

“I felt the lump in February but because cystic breasts run in my family I knew it would be best to wait a cycle to see if it changed. So I waited a month and it did not go down. It was so big,” she said. “I went to my OB on April 16th and they biopsied the mass on April 21st. My doctor felt some ‘juicy lymph nodes,’ and biopsied those as well.”

On April 28th her doctor confirmed it—cancer, possibly stage 3. Christina was only 32 years old.

From that moment it was a slew of doctors’ appointments, more tests, and still a lot of unknowns. But there was one thing that Christina did know—she wasn’t going to let cancer rule her life.

Prior to kids, Christina, along with Josh, her husband and high school sweetheart, spent most of their free time together training for mini-triathlons and had kept it up ever since. Not very soon before her diagnosis, they had completed the Savage Race. “I was the only girl running with a bunch of guys from my husband’s office. I crossed the finish line last in our group.” At that point she did not have an official diagnosis but once she did she joked with them saying, “Hey, I might have been last in the group, but I have cancer,” she laughs.

It’s that positive attitude that they have passed on to their two vivacious girls—Kyndall, 4, and Kyler, 1— that are helping them get through this ordeal as a family. “Josh and I went and talked to a guidance counselor—that was a biggie for us—I wanted to do that right. He and I talked obsessively about it and we decided we were going to take Kyndall for ice cream,” she said. “After we explained it to her she looked into the ice cream shop, turned back to us and said, ‘Mom, you get what you get, and you don’t get upset.’”

And though the year has been one of their most challenging yet, Christina is adamant that life will not change because of cancer.

“It leaves such a bad taste in your mouth. I had tests done on my body that I didn’t know parts of my body existed. It’s so emotional—we have young kids—and you’re meeting with these doctors, and you’re like, ‘Who are you, man?’” she laughs.

For Christina, it’s all about keeping her eyes on the finish line and paying it forward when her race is complete.

“Mentally, this game is big time mental. The fog has definitely gotten worse the last two treatments. When it catches up with me, it makes me want to cry. I don’t like things to be different in my life because of the cancer. It was very hard in the beginning, but The Gina McReynolds Foundation has given us that positive boom. They’ve been just incredible to us,” she said.

Aside from financial support, it was the emotional and mental support the foundation provided to Christina and Josh that impacted them the most.

“My husband has been my rock, and it’s been just incredible, but especially in the beginning, he tried to do everything. Will and John took him out for a few beers and just in that way, like honestly, that was the only way I thought they would ever help us.”

And then the guys showed up at a party Christina’s friends had organized at the Ale House with a financial gift in hand.

“Josh and I have both said this—while I do not wish cancer on anyone—there has been more good that has come out of it than bad. Dare you say it’s been a blessing? I’m a much better stronger person for it. We’ve met some pretty incredible people that we’ll forever be in touch with. I mean, I don’t honestly know if you can say you’re not a better person for knowing them,” she said.

“It’s so funny how the biggest thing I can say that I’ve learned about cancer is that saying thank you is so not enough. And all I can say now is that they have positively changed my life. As soon as I’m through this, I will do anything I can, for as long as I can.”

 

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