Cancer campaigner Connie Johnson has been remembered in a memorial as an “amazing” woman who fought tirelessly to help others in the face of her own certain death.
And award-winning actor Samuel Johnson has vowed to “charge on the hill” and do his sister proud by ramping up their mission to end cancer for good.
At a moving service in Melbourne on Saturday, supporters filled St Paul’s Cathedral to celebrate the life of the 40-year-old mother who died at a Canberra hospice on September 8.
Connie’s death came a day after she received a Medal of the Order of Australia for her fundraising work through her charity Love Your Sister.
Her husband Michael Johnson spoke first at the service, giving insight into his wife’s protracted battle with cancer and her relentless energy in spite of it.
“Con hated cancer,” he said.
“For a third of her life she had cancer.
“I saw this woman who was so weighed down by cancer, but still had the ability to lift so many of us.
“By actively dying, Con was able to teach so many of us about actively living.”
The cathedral was packed with nearly 1000 people for the memorial, while more watched the live-streamed event on the big screen at nearby Federation Square.
“Thank you for wrapping your arms around this amazing woman,” Mr Johnson said.
Samuel Johnson said cancer “treats our millions with scorn” but his sister taught him it “absolutely can be cured”.
He said he would now take his first break in six years before coming back “so much stronger it’s not funny”.
“After I go to the river, have a cry and come back stronger, I’m going to accelerate like you haven’t seen,” he told reporters after the memorial.
“It’s up to me now to go to the corporate world.
“And once we’ve got everyone together, then we charge on the hill.
“If I haven’t done Connie proud in life, I’ll make sure most certainly that I’ll do her proud in death.”
The Gold Logie winner, who organised the memorial, quit acting last year and pledged not to return until Love Your Sister had raised $10 million.
Connie’s friend Myf Warhurst hosted the event, while TV personality Carrie Bickmore, whose husband died of brain cancer in 2010, also made an emotional speech
She described Connie as “a bloody good human being”.
“The world is a smaller place without her big heart in it,” The Project host said.
Connie founded Love Your Sister in 2012 after being diagnosed with breast cancer, and the charity has since raised $7 million.