Helping Beverly beat the bully: Why every action counts

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

bev blue

Meet Beverly Walker Johansson. Many of you will know her already. Beverly (‘Bev’) was one half of the great wife and husband team that made up the wonderfully named Imagination Unlimited International with her husband Lars, the driving force behind the extraordinary duty free success of Canada’s Inniskillin IceWine through the late 90s and early 2000s.

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Lars sadly passed away in 2009, and is still mourned and loved by many, most of all, of course, by Bev.

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Like all widows, Bev has had it hard since but she remains one of life’s most vibrant, resilient, forward-looking people. Bev loves people and people love Bev.

So here’s the thing. Bev has cancer. Breast cancer. She’s public about it, upfront about it. She’s been through surgery and she’s now going through chemotherapy. Like anyone who has undergone chemo will know, Bev’s doing it tough. But then she’s tough. These are the hard yards but with every day that goes by, she’s a little bit closer to being well again, to beating the bully.

All things pass Bev, all things pass. I know. Five years ago last Monday, I had my cancer taken away in a seven-hour operation at the Royal Marsden Hospital. Heck, look at me today, I’m older and uglier than ever.

Before you know it you’ll be out hiking again and standing (not so damn close to the edge please!) on that incredible rock formation (below) in the wilds you adore.

Bev rocks

I tell this story for a specific reason. This month is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Readers of our media will have noticed that we turned our titles pink in honour of this critical initiative driven by The Estée Lauder Companies to help prevent this cursed disease that blights so many lives.

This year’s theme is ‘Every Action Counts’ and I salute it as I salute Bev. So I want anyone who’s read this far to carry out a simple action. Tonight, please, wherever you are in the world, across oceans and continents, light a candle for Bev. She won’t be able to see the candles but I tell you she’ll feel their warmth.

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  • Hi Martin

    I have just lit 4 candles – no it’s not a start to the great comedy sketch, but for fantastic people. The 1st is for Bev on her journey, the 2nd for you our great survivor and the 3rd is for our dear friend Bully Boy who is another survivor and very recent.

    The 4th is special and for all those to come who will also have the battle and journey to make – may they too feel the warmth around them.

    Best wishes to all battlers!

    Martyn x

  • For four to five years now I’ve been kayaking, exercising, doing zumba, and living a healthy lifestyle, all the while living with undetected breast cancer. No doctor, no machine, no mammogram, no sonogram, no radiologist, ever found it. I found it. By accident I found my cancer. That was on April 28, 2015.

    I never worried about breast cancer because 1. I received a clean mammogram and/or sonogram every year. 2. I live a very healthy lifestyle. 3. Breast cancer does not run in my family. 4. Breast cancer is more likely to strike the older you are. My sisters are over a decade older than me. I am the baby. If they didn’t have breast cancer then I believed I would not be diagnosed with it.

    I found my tumor while showering, which is what I am NOW told by my doctors is the best way to find a tumor. My doctors were amazed that I found my tumor because even they were unable to feel the tumor as I was on my back being examined by them. Soapy hands, while in the shower, doing a self examination, this action is our best defense against breast cancer. Mammograms and sonograms are also important, but that monthly self examination in the shower, what I now call “soap and grope”, and what I will talk about for the rest of my days, is a safe, effective, low-cost way to find breast cancer. That call to action includes you ladies under the age of 40, which the recommended age for women to start with an annual mammogram.

    I am telling you my story, because I want to shock you. I want to shock you because I want you to take action. And I want you to take action because I genuinely care about every Travel Retail/Duty Free woman out there.

    I have stage three breast cancer. At first we all thought the tumor I found was small. All my doctors said I caught it early. We all high-fived in the doctor’s office. All I needed was a lumpectomy and radiation therapy. Things changed quickly. An MRI discovered the cancer was all throughout my breast. Not good. That meant stage two breast cancer. I had a double mastectomy along with having seven lymph nodes removed on June 10, 2015. Worse news came. The pathology report showed that the cancer had spread from my breast into my lymphatic system, and possibly into other parts of my body. The cancer found was aggressive. Stage three, possibly stage four cancer. I started aggressive chemotherapy, painful chemotherapy. Several of you know the details. It is not pretty. Somehow I just cannot relate pretty pink ribbons with amputating my breasts, chemo, radiation, ten years hormonal therapy, horrific side effects, and doctors sharing with me the statistical percentage I have to live. I will one day understand because that pretty pink ribbons stands for being a fighter, an advocate, a friend to someone going through breast cancer, a woman who will never stop telling women to “soap and grope” in the shower on the first of every month, starting while you are in your twenties.

    One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. You do not die of breast. You die from breast cancer when it spreads from your breast and into your body. To avoid that you must catch it early. You must catch it as early as possible. 10% to 15% of mammograms and sonograms/ultrasounds do not detect breast cancer. I find those numbers quite high. I want you women to “soap and grope” the first of each month.

    I love the women in Duty Free/Travel Retail. I never want even one of them to share my experience….EVER!

    I send out my heartfelt gratitude to so many of you around the world for always staying in communication with me, especially these past six months. You lifted me up on dark days and laughed with me on good days. I am grateful. I started listing all your names, but the list became so long.

    Thank you, Martin, for having my story be associated with the fantastic Breast Cancer campaign put forward by the Estee Lauder Group. I’ll see many of you at next year’s IAADFS. Save a dance for me! Have a great TFWE. Love, Bev

  • Dear Martin,

    Thank you for your eloquent and thoughtful message to Bev and to others who may also be bravely fighting the good fight. Bev has been climbing mountains, literal and figurative, for years and I marvel at her resilience. Bev is in my thoughts and prayers. I’ve lit a bonfire for her. I know she will “WHIP IT. WHIP IT GOOD!”.

  • Martin, thanks for connecting us to brave individuals and sharing your stories. Bev, we look forward to see next Spring in Florida. sending you light and warmth from our candles. Virginie

  • I will be lighting a candle tonight for Bev although we have never met. Six years ago I had surgery for prostate cancer followed by radiation and two years of hormone therapy. I have no sign of the disease today. I know several women battling breast cancer and I know they, and Bev will beat the beast. My thoughts are with them all.

  • Only Martin can call upon the whole Duty Free community to act together across the oceans and time zones for one idea! Yes we will light that candle for Bev, in Paris and later in Cannes. Bev, fearless and beautiful lady , we love you, we think of you . And I can’t wait to share again with you of those “ladies get together” that are so much fun!

  • I applaud the spirit that Bev shows and all the folks who rallied around her. Most of us have too many cancer stories to tell as its important that we all fight this terrible disease together.
    Get well… Bev… get well we are all rooting for you.
    Bruce

  • Martin,
    Just wanted to say what a beautiful article of our Warrior Beverly.
    Truly moving and I will light a candle! I lost my mom to breast cancer a long time ago its wonderful to see how much further we’ve come and still to far. I’d love to see a cure that is much simpler and faster.
    Thx,
    Elyse

  • Bev, I just want you to know I’m thinking about you and how you must be battling. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. You ARE a winner!

  • Bev is the sweet friend I have had since school days and to be reunited with her has been such a blessing to me personally. I was heartbroken that she had lost her beloved Lars and then had to contend with this monster called Breast Cancer. She is an inspiration to all that know her and those that have not had the pleasure to yet. She is teaching others how to continue facing life’s challenges, which I admire so very much. I will light that candle and say my daily prayers for my friend with much love attached. She has a wonderful spirit, attitude and will win this battle! <

  • I am Bev’s big sister. Thank you for your article. It brought me to tears. She is truly an amazing woman and I know she will have victory. Prayer and friends like you will help carry her through this battle. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart. Jeanne Brown