Grief has struck the hearts of thousands of Australians, as tributes flood the Facebook page of cancer campaigner, Connie Johnson, who has died from breast cancer.
Gold Logie-winning actor and brother to Connie, Samuel Johnson, announced his sister had died on their Love Your Sister charity Facebook page on Friday evening.
The post was shared almost 45,000 times.
“We lost Connie today. Or as she asked me to say, she died of cancer today,” Samuel wrote.
“It was so beautiful. We laughed, we cried, we sang stupid songs from our childhood to her, which she loved [mostly!],” he said.
“Thanks for everything, Connie Cottonsocks. It was my pleasure to be your Sammy Seal.”
Around 60,000 followers of Connie and Samuel’s cancer charity left heartfelt messages on the Facebook page, with many confessing their pain despite not knowing Connie personally.
“I am not a relative, nor a friend, nor even a person you know, but I feel, like a lot of people I am sure, that I lost part of my family today,” Lyndal Jordon wrote.
Catherine Blythe said Connie fought bravely until the end and left an incredible legacy.
“While she had her own personal battle, she raised incredible awareness and much needed funding to mean that one day, we can hope to find a cure for the terrible disease that is cancer. Connie has achieved more in her life that was tragically cut short than most of us will ever achieve in our lives.”
The day before her death, Connie had been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia at her beside in a Canberra hospice in recognition of her cancer charity work.
Her brother Samuel said her eyes “danced liked a kid” when the Governor General Peter Cosgrove “popped in” and awarded the medal on Thursday.
“Afterwards, she looked at me sideways, because she can’t move her head too well, and she kept saying, in her weak and raspy voice… ‘Can you believe it? Can you believe it? Look what we did. We did something,” Samuel wrote on social media.
The celebrity brother already knew Connie’s time was “nigh” when the award was given and asked supporters to prepare for her death.
“This was just in time,” he said following the OAM honour.
“This is an awful time, we won’t bulls—, but please believe that she feels SO cushioned by your love and has been finding so many rainbows.”
The siblings set up charity Love Your Sister when Connie was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer in 2009 after already overcoming a tumour in her leg as a child.
Brother and actor Samuel Johnson made the decision to retire from his acting career to devote his time to the charity.
The Molly mini-series star rode around Australia on a unicycle to raise money and used his public profile to push the Love Your Sister charity campaign.
In his acceptance speech for Best Actor and Gold Logie at the Logie Awards in April, he took the opportunity to speak about Connie’s cancer diagnosis.
“My sister is succumbing finally to the perils of cancer after a three-decade long tussle,” Samuel said.
“Rather than rolling over, she’s going out blazing with an attempted world record for the longest line of coins, absurdly. She’s putting together a row of coins in the shape of a love heart.”