Australian actor Samuel Johnson has committed to targeting larger donations to fund cancer research.
It has been 10 days since Samuel’s sister, 40-year-old mother and breast cancer campaigner Connie Johnson died from the disease, after inviting the Australian public to join her throughout her private cancer journey.
Connie’s Gold Logie-winning brother appeared live on Network Ten’s The Project on Monday, hours after her funeral in Canberra, where he described his sister’s funeral as “beautiful, perfect, exactly as she planned”.
“I will accelerate the push for a cure,” Samuel said, indicating he’d seek help from influential Australians.
“I’m sick of tapping on families’ doors who can’t afford it. Everyone on ground level is doing enough. I’m out for the rest now.
“I realise it’s not about hitting $10 million, it’s about solving the problem we call cancer.
I want to issue a friendly warning to anyone with influence, with leverage, with power, with money, we’re coming to get them.”
Samuel will continue his sister’s work through the Love Your Sister charity which has already raised more than $7 million for cancer research.
He recently pledged he would not return to acting until their campaign reaches $10 million.
Connie fought her cancer battle publicly for seven years and retreated to face her final challenge with her inner circle of family and friends when her treatment options were exhausted in April.
The day before her death, Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove personally awarded her the Medal of the Order of Australia.
Samuel told The Project that, as children, his nickname had been Sammy Seal and his sister’s had been Connie Cotton Socks.
Seeing as Carrie has the whole Beanie thing covered, we thought we'd bung out some 'Connie Cottonsocks' and together try…
“Seeing as [The Project host] Carrie [Bickmore] has the beanie thing covered, I thought we would do the sock thing and cover the cancer conundrum from head to toe,” he quipped, before being met by thunderous applause from the live audience.
“When I saw her in the hospice and told her about the idea, it was like, not everyone is a girl in the village. There’s some boys. I know that pink is gender neutral now and everything, but there’s going to be some boys that want blue ones, so maybe we could have some Sammy Seal ones.
“Without skipping a beat, even when she was really sick, she said: ‘Sam, you’ve done this your whole life’. I said, ‘what?’ She replied, ‘You have to turn everything into a sockularity contest’.”
Samuel added: “She went out on the toppest of the top. I’m so proud of her.
“I’ve realised this isn’t the end. I’ve realised this is just the beginning. She (Connie) was training her little brother to do her work when she was gone. I’m ready for that.”
During a TedX speech in Brisbane in 2014, Connie reminded people to make the most of every moment.
“Why wait to be told that you’re dying to start living?” she said.
“I challenge you – have a pillow fight, dance in the rain and jump in puddles … grab your partner and kiss them passionately.
“Tell your children that you love them, connect with your inner child … pick up a phone or a pen and a piece of paper, and reach out to someone you’ve lost touch with and build a bridge.
“Don’t be afraid. Life is there to be lived.”
Connie Johnson will be remembered at a public memorial service in Melbourne on September 23 at St Paul’s Cathedral.
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