WHEN Maxine Johns went for a routine medical check-up in 2003, she got unexpected news. It was the type of diagnosis she never thought she would hear.
Fate, it seemed, had dealt her a bad card. Not only was she diagnosed with breast cancer, the doctors also informed Ms Johns she had entered the fourth stage of the fatal illness.
The 69-year-old Lautoka resident said the news left her numb with shock.
"Like any other person, I just couldn't believe it," she said.
"My family was devastated when they found out but I thank God for them.
"They gave me strength and really supported me."
Ms Johns said she was a mother-of-two at the time she was diagnosed.
"My children were grown up so they could handle themselves.
"Because of the advanced stage of the cancer, it wasn't long before I was called in for surgery at Lautoka Hospital.
"The surgeon told me I was lucky to come when I did for my operation."
Ms Johns says she recovered remarkably quickly and is now an advocate for early cancer screening.
It has been 10 years since her miraculous battle with cancer and Ms Johns said she had consistently emphasised the importance of women getting screened early.
"My elder sister lost her life to throat cancer and my brother had stomach cancer. Cancer is real and can be everywhere, it is better to detect cancer in the early stages than wait till the last minute.
"Now, I am also heavily involved with the Fiji Cancer Society and I often take the opportunity to attend morning teas and give my testimony."