What would you do if your sister was terminally ill?
An unfathomable prospect for most, it is the harrowing question actor Samuel Johnson was forced to ask himself.
“You either laugh or you cry… it’s better to do more aof the laughing though,” he quips.
Two halves of a whole, Sam and sister Connie had a typical childhood. Growing up in the quaint streets of Daylesford, Victoria, the pair were inseparable. They played together. They fought together.
And they battled cancer together.
With the help of early detection, treatment, and inconceivable mental strength, Connie had overcome two separate and aggressive tumours before turning 23.
It was her eldest son, Willoughby’s 4th birthday, when she was diagnosed with cancer for the third time.
Aged 33, Connie was given three years to live. A life expectancy, oncologists said, she would be lucky to reach.
In the two years since initial diagnosis, the cancer has spread to her lungs, liver, pelvis, spine and knee.
Faced with the fight of her life, she set Samuel the toughest challenge she could think of. What started out as a joke in the kitchen, soon turned into a promise.
“I asked her what she wanted her legacy to be, and she said ‘I want to remind every mum about breast cancer awareness.’ I said, ‘well, how would we do that?’”
“She said, ‘well… you could ride your unicycle around Australia.’ Actually, it wasn’t really a question. It was more like, ‘I don’t care, you’re doing it!’”
“That’s the thing about dying – you don’t take no for an answer,” Samuel laughs.
A larrikin through-and-through, the ‘Secret Life Of Us’ stars positivity in the face of adversity is perhaps one of his most striking features (aside from his self-proclaimed ‘chicken legs’).
“We’re here to take the piss. We don’t want another hard luck story – life’s too short to be sad. We just want to make sure the same fate doesn’t befall another woman.”
“So, within about ten minutes of her bringing up the idea, I’d locked myself into what is now the ‘Love Your Sister’ project… What the hell was I thinking?”
Determined to raise one million dollars for Breast Cancer (and break a Guinness World Record in the process), Sam has set himself no easy feat.
“As if it’s not hard enough or something, we’ve challenged people to come up with dares for each town that I pass through, as well,” he jests.
“I had to swim with crocodiles in Darwin – I honestly thought that would be the end for me… I can’t wait to see what you Gold Coasters come up with!”
With over a third of the 15,000 kilometre journey under his belt, Samuel is determined to reach as many people as possible.
“I’ve got a long way to go, but just speaking to one person face to face about breast cancer awareness makes such a difference.”
“The generosity has been mind-blowing, you know? I meet so many people who have lost loved ones from it. So, for every bit of support I receive, I say thank-you. Not from me, but from my sister Connie.”
“I just think about her and it keeps me going… I think about what she’s going through, and I keep peddling.”
And pedal he shall.
“It’ll probably take me around a year to complete, so I’m hoping to come through the Gold Coast towards the end of the year.”
“We’ve met some really great people out that way, so we’re hoping to have a big turn out. We’d love to see you all there.”
To donate or get involved with the ‘Love Your Sister’ project, head to loveyoursister.org