Facing Giants

Greetings! My name is Shalandra Johnson, and I’m a 37-year-old survivor of cancer, not to mention a traumatic car accident. I’m a mother of four children who, according to my pediatric oncologist, would never be born. I grew up in a small town called Tarboro, in North Carolina, and I’ve been here all of my life. I’m reaching out in the hope of giving someone somewhere hope of reclaiming their life.

It was March 9, 1991, when I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, which is a rare form of cancer that forms in your lymph nodes and attacks your white blood cells, making it hard to fight off infection. I suffered from severe weight loss, fatigue, and a knot that protruded from my neck.

My mother made me an appointment with my doctor at the time, and I was diagnosed with gallstones. However, my mother and aunt weren’t satisfied with that diagnosis, so they made an appointment with our family physician, who was able to see me right away.

Once I arrived and my mother began to explain my symptoms, the doctor was concerned that I wasn’t getting better from my previous visit. So he ordered several tests to be run and suggested that we grab lunch while we wait on results. Upon our return, the doctor informed my mother that it looked like cancer, but he was not sure of the type. The doctor made some phone calls and came back into the waiting room to tell us to pack a bag and head to the hospital in Greenville, where I would be admitted for further tests.

I remember feeling scared, and trying to figure out what I did wrong to get cancer. Once my mother had packed, we headed straight to Greenville. Once we registered, we were greeted by a team of nurses and doctors who began to explain some of the procedures I had to undergo. There was so much going through my head; however, my mother, who seemed nervous as well, took out her Bible and begin to say, “By his stripes you are healed.” She repeated it so many times as we waited for our next steps.

I was taken down for several tests, which seemed like they took forever. Finally, I was on my way back to my room, where I was greeted by my mother and a few other family members who came for support.

The following morning, the doctors came in with more details of the diagnosis. The cancer was in the fourth stage but had not spread to any major areas of my body. The doctors stated they had an immediate plan that they had to put in action. I was overwhelmed and wondering if I was going to make it. The doctors said that chemotherapy, removing the lymph node, and adding a hickman (a little tube that was inserted into my chest to administer the chemo and also to draw blood from) were all part of the treatment plan—and it had to take place ASAP! The cancer had to be treated aggressively.

Several weeks passed. I underwent several treatments of the radiation and chemo, which the doctor assured my family my body was responding well to. However, an issue had come up. I was told that the radiation had damaged my ovaries and I wouldn’t be able to bear any children. I was young, so that was not devastating to me—I just wanted to be reassured I would make it.

Two months or so passed, and my body responded well to the therapies. I was able to go from inpatient treatments to outpatient treatments. My doctor visits went from once a week, to twice a month, to every six months, then finally once a year. I had recovered well and went back to something of a social life. I was now in high school, where I met my first love and later found out that the impossible was happening again. It was a few weeks after I graduated in 1999 that I found out I was pregnant…something that I thought I would never get a chance to experience, which had been OK with me.

I had my follow-up visit with my OB/GYN, who followed my pregnancy closely due to my history of cancer. I was informed that I was considered high risk and the baby might not survive, or if it did, ran the risk of deformities. I was scared, but this was a miracle in itself, so if God allowed this, I felt like it had purpose. I had minor complications, but I gave birth to a healthy 6-lb. baby boy. I married and later ended up with three additional children. Altogether, I had three boys and one girl, all of whom are healthy and full of life.

I’m a single mom now, but my children bring me so much joy. I continued to follow up with my oncologist, and I’m glad to say I have remained cancer-free.

As you can imagine, I had my hands full: working a full-time job, attending school events, and being a mom to athletic boys. It was a lot, but I would place my supermom cape on and handle my business.

On February 28, 2017, I was again faced with a challenge from life. It was about 7:30 a.m. I was headed to work when an 18-wheeler truck ran the stop light and T-boned me.

I was rushed to the ER, where I was listed in critical condition. I don’t recall the accident at all—however, I suffered from an internal decapitation, fractured hip bone, punctured lungs, and brain injury. All of this was happening to me, but I believed that it was for a purpose.

I remember waking up to my oldest son, who was 17 at the time, standing over me crying. I was overjoyed to recognize a familiar face. I had tubes everywhere, even down to a trachea down my throat because of my lack of oxygen. The separation of my head and spine had put my oxygen levels at risk, as had the inflammation in my throat. The doctor who later came by was quite amazed at my response, being that I had suffered major brain injury. He told me I was a lucky young lady because people who suffer injuries like I did don’t usually make it to his operation table. I felt blessed but concerned about my recovery.

I spent several weeks in the hospital before anyone actually told me what had happened. So my oldest son asked me if I wanted to know, and he told me and showed me a picture of my car. The 2013 Kia Optima was torn into pieces. Looking at the car, I automatically assumed that walking wasn’t an option for me anymore. I was later transferred down to rehab to discover that I would be using a mobile wheelchair permanently. This was so disturbing. How was I supposed to take care of my children like this? I began to pray and ask God to give me the strength I needed to get over this mountain. I attended physical, occupational, and speech therapy for several weeks.

The hospital offered a support group for people who were going through traumatic experiences.This is where reality begin to set in, but I couldn’t fully accept it. I couldn’t believe I had to start from scratch, learning to do everything all over again, just like a baby.

I had lost mobility on my left side, so when the nurses came in to bathe me, I wouldn’t even try to assist, I would just lie there and let them do the best they could with me. On one particular day, I began to try to wash my own self. Each day I would put more effort into each thing the nurse was doing, such as washing my face, putting my clothing on, and so forth.

I began to hear a voice that told me, “This is not your ending, this is your beginning.” Soon, it was time for me to be released. I had spent about three months in the hospital, causing me to lose my home, so I was now living with my mother. I believe it was being home and not being able to do anything for my children physically that pushed me to experience the miracle I’m progressing in today. I’m no longer bound to that mobile wheelchair, but up and walking on my own. I’m not as fast as I would like to be, but I’m progressing daily. My right vocal chord was paralyzed during the accident, which resulted in my voice sounding like a whisper. Would you believe me if I told you that I’ve visited the ENT doctor since to find out that it’s still paralyzed? But I have a voice now. Another miracle! 

Regardless of the giants you might face in life, never give in to them, even if they seem bigger than you. Stand firm, stare them in the face, and accept the challenge. Because with God and faith, I’m here to tell you anything is possible. Be encouraged.

Shalandra Johnson

About the Author | Shalandra Johnson

Shalandra Johnson is a believer that through her faith in God and will to live, she became the survivor she is today. Knowing that she has four little people who depend on her and look to her for strength pushes her to never give in and always remain faithful. 

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43 comments to "Facing Giants"

  • Jaquita Spragley

    You’re blessed!! God is definitely with you!! Continue to share your story and watch how many lives you touch!!

  • Tyrrance Reynolds

    Great Testimony, You are the true definition of a fighter. God knows who to give his toughtest battles too. You conquered each and ever test that he has put in front of you. God bless you. Love ♥️

  • Kiyah

    ❤️💪🏽

  • Ava

    Love you Shalandra! God’s Warrior Princess, he was not finished yet!

  • Diane Owens (Aunt Di)

    Shalandra, What a beautiful testimony! No one can know the wonderful power of God unless they put their whole trust in His hands. Faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. But sadly, most of us never excercise the hidden potential of our faith. May God continue to strengthen you to be a shining example! Sending you much love!!

  • Iesha phillips

    Omg !! So Inspiring.. the push that I needed on today !! Your story is touching ..sad.. yet amazing and uplifting !!! You have not only face but conquered these obstacles in your life …You’re fierce, determined, and most of all You’re a living testimony!!!!! Stay bless my friend my sister love you!!!!

  • Angel W.

    AMAZING story! You are definitely a living testimony!!! God is surely able to do ANYTHING and then some!!!

  • Latoya Yates

    Hello My Sister, You are such an inspiration in the Kingdom of GOD. I love you dearly! Your story (your testimony) will help save many! God is definitely not completed with the work that he has to do in you.

  • iesha

    Omg !! So Inspiring.. the push that I needed on today !! Your story is touching ..sad.. yet amazing and uplifting !!! You have not only face but conquered these obstacles in your life …You’re fierce, determined, and most of all You’re a living testimony!!!!! Stay bless my friend my sister love you!!!!.. 😘😘😘😢🙌🏽🙌🏽💃🏽💃🏽😢😢tears of joy .. it’s amazing like I really seen how u went from not been able to do nothing !! Eyes crossed (still pretty ) not moving your left side couldn’t walk .. talk .. or hold your head straight ..I’m so much pain to now .. this nothing u have to tell me this what I witness you are blessed beyond .. he saved you for a reason 😍😍😍

  • Angela Lawrence

    I’m soooo happy for you 🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾This was very uplifting 😘

  • Ms Rosa

    Remember what i said, but what I see is a God delivering testimony to him be glory and honor and many more blessing on you without the pain in Jesus Name.

  • Patricia S. Hinton

    I am Patricia Hinton ( Shalandra’s aunt and strongest supporter).
    I am so very privileged to have witness this miracle from the beginning to the present. This
    traumatic chapter in her life has also pushed my faith to another level in God.
    She didn’t just face her giant but together she and God gave him a black eye and
    knocked him on his bottom.
    Be Blessed

    • Shalandra Johnson
      Shalandra Johnson

      Biggest supporter is an understatement..you’re truly a devine gift that I feel privileged that God picked me to withhold such a blessing as you are..I LOVE YOU AUNTY and appreciate you for who you are to me❤️

  • Ken Pitt

    Strength, Resiliance & favor from Allah(God). I admire your strength & love what you stand for! Your story should be read and your Resiliance should recognized! Continue to progress and give your best; with God on your side, you can face those giants. Love!

  • Shalandra Johnson
    Shalandra Johnson

    Blessings to you all!!GOD is truly amazing.. God has so much in store for his people if we would only humble ourselves and seek him in all we do. Life was never meant to be a breeze,it was established for us all to be pushed into our soul purpose which is to glorify our father..SO KNOW THIS WHATEVER YOU FACE HAS A PURPOSE TO DIRECT YOU TO YOUR DESTINY…DONT FIGHT IT JUST STEP BACK AND LET GOD❤️

  • Tina Anderson Howard

    This has been a great pleasure witnessing the miracle of God! Because of you and what you went through for us my faith is always on high! If he did for you I know he will do it for us! Thank you my friend my sister my prayer partner Love you ❤️🤞🏾

  • Evon Powell

    Hallelujah, Glory to God! We serve a miraculous God! Shalandra you are living testimony, and a miracle! I love you and you have been a strong woman of God every since I met you. This is an amazing story, and tell what God has done for you, tell the world! God will restore and can do the impossible.

  • S. Pettaway

    Thanks for sharing this inspirational story. May God continue to Bless you richly.

  • Sheba A.

    Your story is incredible. I’m so happy that you decided to share the goodness of God and bless others. You are an example of strength and grace. May God continue to bless you and keep on slaying those giants!!!! 😘

  • TAMIKA BLACK

    Beautiful and such an ispirational testimony. I refuse to call it a story because it is SO much more than a story. God indeed has a higher purpose for you and He is proving through you that all things are possible through Him. Continue your amazing journey, cousin, and I will continue to be blessed to witness it!

  • Prateek

    God bless you. Om.

  • Kimika Spragley

    Love you Lady ❤❤

  • Reggie Keys

    You one strong independent black woman… got me all emotional after reading this.. keep the Faith my sista!!! Stay motivated!! Never give up!!!! ✊🏾✊🏾💪🏾💪🏾💪🏾
    As Kiyah use to say (The Lady)😁

  • Janella Pitt

    You’ve touched a lot of people including me! You’re so strong bae I love it! ❤️

  • Camica Perez

    How Beautiful your story. I want to share on FB. This is God in His amazing power!!!

  • Talia williams

    Beyond Blessed! What a testimony! Thank God for sparing my families life twice! He’s a miracle worker! I love you baby!

  • LaQuanda Brown

    Shalandra, GOD is good and your testimony is one to give praise. I’ve known you my entire life and has always looked at you as not only a friend but a miracle. Continue to encourage others because you’ve experienced 1st hand what GOD can and will do.

  • Shalandra Johnson
    Shalandra Johnson

    I Appreciate all the love and the support from all my viewers…My soul purpose is to glorify God who is my source. Don’t wait until he is your only option to turn to seek him while things are good/bad because he cares. He’s able to do anything but fail…however realize that if he doesn’t do something it’s not because he CAN’T..BE ENCOURAGED LOVE YOU ALL❤️

  • Kia

    I’m so glad God allowed me to be apart of your work life…you’ve always been a wonderful person. I’ll always pray for you ! Continue to be strong your testimony is one for the books girl ❤️

  • Lisa Colorado

    Omg Lady!!! I had no clue that you were going through this. I don’t keep up with hardly anyone anymore. I loved you back in high school. You were always an inspiration to me then and so strong. I always wanted to have your strength and confidence. You are definitely an angel sent. I don’t think you know how much your family affected and touched my life. Keep your head up baby girl!! God has got this and you in his hands. Please tell everyone hello from me. I miss y’all so much