Detroit native Dr. Missy Johnson defied death three times and shares her story to empower others.
Photo provided by Dr. Missy Johnson
She was on the verge of death more times than she would like to count – but that hasn’t slowed her purpose down it’s actually fueled it.
Detroit native Dr. Missy Johnson has felt the chill of near-death situations that tried to paralyze her with fear.
Johnson, in her 50s, faced death in the face four years ago when she was given a three percent chance to wake up from the coma she was in for nearly 50 days. Her healing journey, to say the least, was atypical. When she beat the statistics, she also went on to write a movie short The Waiting Room episode called The Party for the BETHer Channel which aired on October 9 and is available for streaming on BETHer.
“To actually see it — it was like amazing,” she said, adding that “people have journeyed with me” through her cancer diagnosis.
The Waiting Room is part of a series of two short films that follows the lives of two women in a doctor’s waiting room as they find out to hear if they have breast cancer – something not new to Johnson.
After beating the odds and finding the strength to live through sepsis, 25 surgeries, and a coma, Johnson was faced again hit with another scary situation in her life, when she was diagnosed with Stage 3c breast cancer. Johnson, who didn’t easily accept defeat, went on to live her life by her terms.
“Every time I was moving forward, I got an interruption in my life,” Johnson said. “If you can’t fly, then run. I don’t care what happens, if you can’t fly and I have to crawl this movie is going to come out.”
Johnson, who has had 25 surgeries in the last two years, also battled stage three cancer as she learned her sister also had cancer. Johnson stayed strong for both herself and her sister. She did not let the health crisis pull her spirits down, and she continued writing her movie with a determination that someone would produce it.
Knowing what she does about fighting when the odds are not in your favor, it is no coincidence that the movie is about an executive, socialite magazine editor battling breast cancer for the second time, according to a press release.
It was in the middle of writing the movie that Johnson’s sister lost her battle with cancer. “I lost nine people in my family to cancer including my sister, Johnson added. “My sister died as I was writing the movie and though I tried, I couldn’t save her. So this is bittersweet. Instead, I had the opportunity to create this movie about breast cancer awareness.”
Johnson says that the doctors at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit saved her life twice.
“When I found out I had cancer after my coma, I didn’t have a lot of hope,” she said.
It was Dr. Randa Loufti, an oncologist at HFHS who said, “If anyone can survive this, it’s you. You have fearless faith.”
Before the sepsis, Johnson was also in a serious car accident that almost took her life, but once again she had the determination to live.
Johnson, now a professional screenwriter, is also a speaker, author, and coach. She has a women’s empowerment organization called Fearless Women Rock LLC. Johnson and her husband Lee, have a son.
Today Johnson likes to remind people, “Tomorrow is not promised. Live life to the fullest as the best version of who you are. You don’t need acceptance or approval of anyone.”
Johnson, who also overcame a severe COVID-19 diagnosis last year, has a female production company, MegaMind Media and Tressa Azarel Smallwood of Maryland.
Johnson said that it’s God’s grace in her life that helps her overcome and be the motivation she is today.
“Someone told (me) I don’t look like what I’ve been through — I got papers,” she said of her scars on her body and constant physical pain that tells her story. “Every day I am in pain; I don’t complain.”
Johnson, who has an organization called Fearless Women Rock (which she started in 2017) said that the women-empowerment organization is helping her share her story, which she said is not about her.
“(It may) be for somebody else,” she said, adding that people don’t have to have gone through near-death experiences like she did to tell their own stories. ”If you overcame anything in your life and could help somebody make a difference, your story needs to be told. Keep crafting your stories… whatever (is) the thing you overcame is the thing you got to teach.”