She Is A Fighter – Bronwyn’s Story
With more than 20 years experience as a nurse, most recently as the Research Coordinator – Intensive Care at Wollongong Hospital, Bronwyn Johnson is very familiar with the world of medicine, disease and disability. But what happens when the practitioner becomes the patient?
I meet Bronwyn in the living room of her suburban home. She greets me with a warm hug but there is weariness on her face that hints at the fact that she has only just returned from her most recent stay in hospital. In her career as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), Bronwyn has journeyed alongside hundreds of patients & their families as they face the challenge of critical & sometimes terminal illness. On top of that, she’s had to deal with her husband’s battle with bowel cancer & her own mother’s death, due to leukaemia. But none of that really adequately prepares you to hear the words ‘you have cancer’ yourself.
Only two years after losing her mother to leukaemia, Bronwyn was diagnosed with breast cancer. She endured months of chemotherapy, radiotherapy & multiple surgeries. By the end of 2009, she was given the ‘all clear’. Remission at last. She & her family were finally able to put the physical, emotional & financial strain of the cancer rollercoaster behind them, or so they thought.
In May 2011, Bronwyn began to experience persistent lower back pain. Scans revealed the devastating news that the cancer had returned. Within a matter of weeks doctors confirmed that there were tumours throughout her bones & several in her brain. Over the last four years, Bronwyn has endured multiple brain surgeries, specific & full brain radiation and an ongoing & ever-changing cocktail of chemotherapy. She has lost her hair many times & her body bears the scars of countless attempts to rid itself of a disease that is relentless & defiant. Yet in the face of seven years of overwhelming setbacks & disappointments she too is defiant, courageous & determined.
The source of her courage is her faith in God.
“As a medical practitioner, I had always placed all my confidence in drug protocols, surgery, radiotherapy. But to be honest they have all ultimately failed me. The only thing that is constant for me is Jesus. I have recently found out that despite full brain radiation the tumour in the centre of my brain is growing rapidly, it is inoperable. Right now I feel totally lost. My vision is failing and I live with persistent & debilitating pain & fatigue. There are times when I feel like I just can’t take one more piece of bad news. All I have to hang onto is God & his promises.
I will live and not die and declare what the Lord has done.
I have been really focused on seeking God for healing but last year I realised that what I wanted even more than healing was Him. Don’t misunderstand me, I desperately want to be healed but a relationship with Jesus is the ultimate prize. I think this verse from an old hymn sums up my battle strategy pretty well”
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face &
The things of the earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of his glory & grace.