Connie Johnson, the sister of Gold Logie-winning actor Samuel Johnson, has died following her long battle with cancer.
“We lost Connie today”, Samuel, announced via the Love Your Sister Facebook page on Friday night.
“Or, as she asked me to say, she died of cancer today,” he wrote.
“It was so beautiful. We laughed, we cried, we sang stupid songs from our childhood to her, which she loved (mostly!).
“I read her so many village messages, which she relished. She went so richly, and with such grace. Trust me, she was genuinely cushioned by your love, till the end.”
Her death was announced a day after she received one of the nation’s highest honours.
Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove dropped by Connie’s bed at a Canberra hospice on Thursday to award the mother-of-two a Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of her tireless work for others battling breast cancer.
The 40-year-old made the decision to end all treatment in April this year. While her health was initially dire when she first arrived at the hospice in July, for a time her condition stabilised.
She was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer in 2009, after previously defeating a tumour in her leg as a child.
She launched the charity organisation Love Your Sister in 2012 in an effort to raise funds for cancer research.
In February 2016, Samuel announced his retirement from acting in order to help focus on Connie’s fundraising efforts.
The Molly star’s public profile helped pushed the charity’s campaign centre stage, including at April’s Logie Awards, where he praised his sister’s efforts while accepting the awards for Best Actor and the Gold Logie.
On Friday, the actor shared an emotional tribute to his sister on the charity’s Facebook page, telling followers she was approaching “the end” of her battle.
“Thanks for showing me that life is what we make it to be,” he wrote in the letter to Connie.
“Thanks for teaching me that now can still be awesome, even when you’ve so nearly run out of now and have no more real awesome left.
“I wish I could soften your pain, or lessen your fear, or give you something tangible, but tangible clearly isn’t in season.
“I’m proud to walk you to the hardest part of the road. The end,” he wrote.
“Thanks for holding my hand along the way. It’s been a stunning f—ing ride.”
On Sunday, Johnson posted a note from Connie, revealing that her Big Heart Project – a recent successful attempt at breaking the record for the longest line of coins – had earned over $2.5 million, more than ten times the target she’d expected.
“We looked everywhere and there’s been nothing like it that we can find,” she said of the line, which formed a heart shape. “I’m certain that our village heart is literally the biggest heart the world has seen. Which to me, says that us villagers have the biggest hearts in the world.”
The charity, which boasts around 456,000 Facebook followers, has raised over $4 million for cancer research to date.
Rainbows carry hefty pricetags, turns out.Thanks for showing me that life is what we make it to be. Thanks for teaching me that now can still be awesome, even when you’ve so nearly run out of now and have no more real awesome left. I wish I could soften your pain, or lessen your fear, or give you something tangible, but tangible clearly isn’t in season. I’m proud to walk you to the hardest part of the road. The end. The only part of the road in your life that must sadly be travelled alone. Chin up please, amidst the growing dark my girl. Shoulders back. Stand tall through that savage march, stand big and tall, dear sister, for you have lived a life to be proud of. You’ve loved well, and you’ve been loved well which is all that really matters in the end, I suspect. I won’t finish with I love you, though of course I do. I’ll finish with a simple thanks. Thanks for holding my hand along the way. It’s been a stunning fucking ride. I want another turn, for we’ve spent our lives taking turns, but cancer is greedier and stronger than us. For now. So Little Miss Connie Cottonsocks, I shall now again and proudly declare myself, very truly yours, Your ever grotty and very sad little brother, Sammy Seal. XX @samueljjohnson78