Living through cancer fuels desire to ‘pay it back’

By The Health News Team | June 25, 2020
Sherman Johnson, technical lead in the Cardiac Cath Lab at Sharp Chula Vista

Sherman Johnson, technical lead in the Cardiac Cath Lab at Sharp Chula Vista, shares his experience as a patient and a health care professional.

Life-threatening diseases can affect an individual of any age or ethnicity, regardless of one’s profession. There are thousands of health care professionals who have “flipped the script” and become patients themselves while facing cancer or other chronic illnesses.

Sherman Johnson, technical lead in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, is a two-time cancer survivor. His lived experience has meaningfully affected his outlook on life, and fuels the care for his patients with the utmost respect, humility and empathy.

An individual’s personal experience with an illness is usually not visible to those around them. Johnson was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma a year after beginning his career with Sharp HealthCare in 2006. Eight years later, he was diagnosed with liposarcoma. Johnson never let his diagnoses define him, and he has always been known by his Sharp colleagues for his exceptionally vibrant and positive attitude.

“My journey has been a humbling one,” Johnson says. “Ironically, this experience has brought my family closer than ever. We love harder, laugh more and travel more often as a result.”

A cancer diagnosis can often be frightening, not only for a patient, but also for their friends, family and loved ones. For this health care professional who has walked in the shoes of a patient and a caregiver, having a support system has been crucial on his journey to wellness.

“My experiences are positively shaped by the medical staff who continue to support my wife and me to manage my health and care,” Johnson says. “Their tireless commitment fuels and empowers me in my day-to-day work. I am innately a ‘giver’ by nature. These acts of love and kindness I have received as a result of my medical past and present only strengthen my drive to pay it forward in this life.”

Cancer can change a person’s whole way of life and their relationships. Whether having survived cancer or having cared for a loved one with cancer, one’s experience can make a remarkable difference in someone else’s life. Johnson’s courage and strength gave him the confidence to propel forward in his personal and professional life, despite his past.

“My position, as in all elements of health care, allows daily opportunities for me to give back and make a difference in the lives of our patients, their families, our staff and our physicians,” Johnson says. “Our contributions influence entire communities and organizations. When I think of it this way, it brings a warm smile to my face.”

Living a fulfilling life after cancer is possible, and Johnson is the beacon of hope. “Love is the language, patience is the game, life is often fragile yet its beauty I would not change,” he says. “Living with cancer can be a scare and seem unfair, yet we are all on borrowed time, we are just more aware.”

Learn more about cancer care at Sharp HealthCare.

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