FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — In her five years alive, Tori Johnson has already overcome more than the average adult.
At just 9-months-old, she was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer.
Just recently, Tori celebrated four years cancer-free.
Though her cancer is gone, as her mother Erin Johnson explains, her diagnosis will last forever.
“The seizures that have come from it, we have had therapies that come from it, neurology follow-ups, endocrinology… all those things they continue for the rest of her life,” Erin said.
While she battled cancer, Tori underwent high dose rounds of chemo, stem cell transplants, and radiation.
Erin said she knew these treatments would have lasting side-effects on her daughter, like issues with hand-eye coordination.
“As a parent you just want your child to be kind of like all the other kids and you realize that when you’re going through treatment, you don’t care what comes after that you just want her to be okay,” Erin said.
Despite facing these setbacks, Tori is overcoming the odds.
In the past 6 months, Erin has watched Tori learn how to ride her bike without training wheels and learn how to swim without a life vest.
“I just put my face in the water and come up and breathe. sometimes I touch the bottom,” Tori said.
These are all things doctors worried Tori would have trouble with.
Tori also graduated pre-school and is preparing to take on kindergarten in the 2020/21 school year.
“I think my favorite part is going to be learning how to read and doing math.”Tori Johnson
While these are milestones that might seem small for someone who has already beaten cancer, to the Johnson family, they’re just as meaningful.
“It’s satisfying for us, but it’s watching her be able to tha
This is why Tori and her family have continued to give back, long after she has been cancer-free.
In 2019, Tori was the champion child for ACNW’s Color of Hope Gala. This is just of the many ways the Johnsons have continued to support other kids in need of life-saving care.
“This Northwest Arkansas community picked us up in our darkest hour and so for us to be able to give back and potentially help another family that might have to walk that same journey is the least that we could do,” Erin said.
Because while Tori’s battle is seemingly over, the Johnsons know for other kids it could just be beginning.