Cancer survivor walking tall

Asha John is walking around with an ‘S’ on her chest.

After two years of pain and fighting for her life, the 23-year-old is not letting anything get her down and is now more thankful for life than ever before.

Asha John is now standing tall and is ready to get on with her life.

Before her life-threatening illness, John was like any other girl. In her words, it was all about, “beach, makeup and clothes”.

“I am a fashion girl and I like nuff dressing up,” she admitted in an interview with Barbados TODAY.

But in 2014, osteosarcoma – a rare type of bone cancer – threatened her life.

It started out as knee pain, but escalated to something much worse.

“In June 2014, when I was working at Eddies Trading as a cashier, I had a pain in my left knee and I didn’t pay it any attention. I’m not a person who gets sick so I ignored it. In July, I was wearing a knee band and I went Soca on the Hill and I ‘do bad’. Then I decided to go to the doctor because it wasn’t getting any better. I went to the clinic and the doctor told me I had strained ligaments. So I asked him how that was possible, since I didn’t play any sports or anything like that?

“I went to another doctor and my mistake was telling this doctor the other doctor told me I have strained ligaments. So he automatically told me I had strained ligaments. So I asked him if he wasn’t going to give me an X-ray to see what the problem was, because my knee wasn’t getting any better. He cursed me and told me don’t tell him how to do his job,” John recalled.

She then made the decision to go to a private doctor to figure out what was really going on with her knee. And, at the age of 21, she was diagnosed with arthritis.

“I was taking a lot of medication and my knee still wasn’t getting better. By that time my knee was bent. In 2014, I had Chikungunya as well so my knee was bent and it wasn’t straightening. My calves and everything [were] getting small. I lost confidence in myself, so it was just to the doctor and home,” John said.

She is a believer that everything happens exactly when it’s supposed to. And a trip to England to visit her aunt, after more than 10 years of wanting to take the journey, came at just the right time. In fact, John believes it saved her life.

“February 2nd [2015] I was going to England for a three-week vacation. My ticket was booked since September. I was still walking good, just a little limp. But by February, it was all over so I was going to cancel my flight. But something told me ‘just go ahead and do the trip’. . . . I was real disappointed and depressed but I still went. I went in a wheelchair and when I got there my aunt met me with crutches,” the former Frederick Smith Secondary School student explained.

“I was to come back to Barbados the 22nd of February. At the time my uncle was in Antigua and when my aunt told him how my knee looked, he told her take me to the doctor. So I went to the doctor and he asked me how I could have arthritis at 21. I told him what medication I was taking and so on, and he transferred me to an arthritis doctor and they were giving me therapy to try and straighten the knee. That was very painful. He sent me for an X-ray and that is when they saw the cancer in my knee. He came to my house to tell me it is cancer – osteosarcoma,” John recalled.

After a further scan, she was informed that the cancer had spread to her ankle and she would need to have the leg removed. And as if that news wasn’t already devastating, the young woman was then informed that the cancer had spread to her lungs.

“At first they told me I would have to get a knee replacement. Then, quick so, I heard I would have to lose the entire foot. My mother came down to England. . . . Everything happened really fast. After I had the scans it also showed it went to my lungs. I had 10 cancer particles in both lungs.”

John began chemotherapy on April 21. It proved to be tough for the fashionista.

“My hair was long and I was really fussy with my hair. I had it dyed red and I used to wear it in a bun. . . .I started chemo Thursday, and by the Sunday my hair was gone. It didn’t even give me time to enjoy the last bit of hair. When I heard it was going to drop out, I said ‘let me shave off the sides so it would drop out in style,” she reminisced with a chuckle.

John said the next few months of her life were the roughest, but with the support of her family and her faith in God, she pulled through.

“Chemo was really hard. I had sores in my mouth, my skin was really dry. I used to do arts and crafts to pass the time. I used to sing real hard. . . . Music helped me get through it, plus my mom. She was there for two months, in the worst times. I had chemo for nine months and most of those nine months I was in the hospital, which wasn’t good,” she said.

After the surgery, John was nervous about looking down at where her leg used to be, but she was glad she was no longer in so much pain. She subsequently got a prosthetic leg.

Now, John is back in Barbados and getting on with her life. Her current goal is to earn her driver’s licence.

“March 6 at 8:30 I will be up there to get my licence,” she declared with a broad smile.

In the long term, John hopes to help young girls at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital who are suffering from cancer.

“I would . . . see if I could go and talk to the little girls and probably get sponsorship to help get little wigs for them, so they could at least feel pretty,” the bubbly young woman explained, recalling her experience in hospital in England where she was given makeup while in hospital.

Asha John loved to to get dolled up while in hospital.

“That’s one thing that used to help me. When you put on the makeup you feel pretty and that would help. I used to be in my bed dolled up.”

John has some advice for others going through hard times: “Keep positive. Whatever trials come your way, keep faith in God. Whatever is for a man he would get in the right time.”

24 Responses to Cancer survivor walking tall

  1. Hazel Harrison
    Hazel Harrison February 23, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    i am happy this lady made it through…she is very strong and gorgeous..however i think the doctors here need to take off their halos and stupid arrogance and listen to their patients more…this foolish behaviour killed a lot of people….professionals need to understand a degree or passing exams dont make you intelligent…humility goes a long way

  2. Margo Bourne
    Margo Bourne February 23, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    God is good all the time

  3. Maryam February 23, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    Omg. Arthiritis to cancer? That trip and her aunt saved her life. Rock on with that beauty!

  4. Brenda Bryce
    Brenda Bryce February 23, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    Imagine the number of people that lose their lives in Barbados because of a misdiagnosis! Be your own health advocate. This young woman’s story is very inspiring. Best of health to you my dear..

  5. Jan CM
    Jan CM February 23, 2017 at 11:49 pm

    May you continue to be healthy and grow closer to God.

  6. Pat Pilgrim
    Pat Pilgrim February 24, 2017 at 12:03 am

    I LOVE your story. Your courage is inspiring. Your life was spared for a reason. Continue to be a loving support and joy to others. Wishing you a lifetime of health and happiness.

  7. Marillyn A Haynes
    Marillyn A Haynes February 24, 2017 at 12:32 am

    You,re a strong lady.I knew it from the time I saw you.Self Confindence an Faith in God has seen you through.You never give up.even at such a tender age.Now God has given you more courage to spread the word to others You are now an witness to God s handy work.Go.Wish I could lend a helping spread the word an comfort those who needs a comforting hand.You are Girl of my heart.Go spread the word.God be with you.

  8. Dee February 24, 2017 at 5:29 am

    I always say doctors don’t everything! Keep going until you find one that will listen to and work with you! Keep smiling my girl God is good!

  9. Lennox hewitt February 24, 2017 at 6:33 am

    One thing with these proffessionals in barbados mostly doctors etc u will tell them u problem there and what u think there tell u don’t tell dum how to do there job just like what there tell the girl and 99 percent of time the patient does be correct .

  10. Marilyn Roach February 24, 2017 at 6:57 am

    Thanking God for your life…It sure is an inspiring story ,May it enlight the hearts of those that reads it…Some people are fussing with the doctors but for once they should celebrate your life and prayer that our doctors would do better at their jobs..Doctors are only men and women like us they are burned out sometimes ..Too often or not doctors misdiagnos…
    I am a witness as well in my knee ,it was also label as arthritis put on meds ,when my knee fell worse the following day ,I couldn’t bend it or walk plus triple in size, I was back at the hospital and I made it clear to the doctor don’t worry about last night notes ,I’m not leaving here until you tell me what is going on inside my knee…
    Bless God she recommend an ultrasound an it was spot on…The night before X-Rays said arthritis the following morning ultrasound said cyst and one had burst ….

  11. Tommy February 24, 2017 at 7:17 am

    Very true about the money doctors bout hey think dem got the most sence and the patients is rabbits mex me laugh it’s a good thing that the girl went on holiday good thing god bless you and you

  12. Glendora Larrier-Jones February 24, 2017 at 7:51 am

    Wowww!! Wowww! I am truly humbled by your story – truth be told, I am moved to tears! Thanks for sharing. I am happy you made it through that very rough journey. May God continue to bless you and order your steps.

  13. Rae February 24, 2017 at 9:16 am

    The journey of a courageous young woman. Bless you. Love you babe.

  14. Patsy February 24, 2017 at 9:25 am

    You are beautiful, and strong continue to shine and be a light and inspiration for others. I am so tearful right now, your story touch my inner and I am so happy you are ok . I wish you every success in your onward journey.

  15. Fazal Juman February 24, 2017 at 11:11 am

    Thank you for this story. This is not the first time I’ve heard of people having to go overseas to get properly and accurately diagnosed. Sometimes it’s best to know your body and trust in that over what an incompetent doctor may tell you. They are not God and can make mistakes. Can never hurt to get a 2nd or even 3rd opinion. She is a survivor and may have just saved someone else life by sharing her story.

  16. Cicely M. Wharton-White February 24, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Some doctors need to listen to their patients more. It must be a 2-sided conversational experience where patient and doctor learn from each other. It took me a long time to realize that no one needs a doctor who will talk and not listen. I am so happy for this young woman’s successful journey. Perseverance seldom fails.

  17. Hartel Hobbs February 24, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    What an inspirational story. May God continue to bless this young lady in all her future endeavors. She is very lucky that she did take that trip to England. If not, we sadly know what the outcome would have been. It is very sad to see the pervasive incompetence that persis in the medical field in Barbados.

  18. Milli Watt February 24, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    A doctor cussing you out because you are uncomfortable with what he said sstttuuupppssseeeeeeeee. This is what I got to look forward to as I age in this cess pool of a place. wrong diagnosis and a cussing. I admire you girl wishing something bad for the doctors you visited before you found out what was wrong ALL NOW. GINE AND SEE IF I FIND A CHICKEN to wish upon.

  19. Heather Negahdar February 24, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    Very happy that you pulled through with God’s grace. Stay strong and stay fab. Put God first always for as He has been, He shall forever be with you ♥

  20. Sonia Payne February 24, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    You should sue those doctors for the misdiagnosis.

  21. Cheryl February 25, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Wow girl you are truely an inspriration!! Your postive attitude and fighting sprit carried you through, and your willingness to give back is commendable. May God continue to bless you. I will ssy an extra pray for you on March 06

  22. Cynthia Straker(UK ) February 25, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    I’m so happy to hear that God has brought you through, for inspiring you to take that UK trip, for the Dr who diagnosed the condition and those who cared for her. Thank God for your healing and success.

  23. sophie Haynes February 25, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    I would love to speak with this phenomenal being, my son loosed his right hand to Osteosarcoma two years and though he seem at first to be coping , I find that his personality have since changed.. I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with Asha..

  24. Cherry (UK) June 28, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    This beautiful woman is my cousin and I am proud to have her in my family. She is so strong with an amazing heart and faith. 🙂 X


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