Mrs. Johnson attends the monthly Breast Cancer Support Group sponsored by Northside Hospital-Cherokee.
The group meets from 10 a.m. to noon the first Thursday of each month at the hospital's Educational Center at 201 Hospital Road in Canton.
The group is free and open to male and female breast cancer patients, survivors and their caretakers, said Eleanor Smith, outreach director for the cancer support community.
Patients and caretakers have the opportunity to talk about their treatments, feelings and share their stories with other patients and caretakers.
Ms. Smith said a registered therapist is always on hand to lead in group discussion. There are five women who attend the program on a regular basis, she said. Since the breast cancer cure rate is on the rise, Ms. Smith said it's common for patients to stop coming after being declared cancer-free.
Ms. Smith said many of the patients and caretakers who drop in find it to be beneficial when they share their stories with others.
"It's great to find out you are not the only one in town who's got a problem," she said. "Just talking about (cancer) is a great relief."
She said she hopes more people consider attending the meeting, even if it's just to listen.
"If they come and visit one time, I think they'll be hooked," she added.
Mrs. Johnson started attending the group's sessions earlier this year with the hopes of encouraging other women to begin sharing their feelings.
"It's just a great thing," she said.
Mrs. Johnson was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2009. She woke up early one morning and couldn't get back to sleep, so she decided to do a breast self exam while in bed.
She discovered a small lump and called her doctor in the morning to schedule an appointment.
Her doctor referred her to get a mammogram and confirmed she had cancer.
Mrs. Johnson said she was "disappointed" in the diagnosis because she thought it would just be a cyst. Then again, the 80-year-old added, the news wasn't "devastating at my age."
"My reasoning was how many years do I have left?" she said.
Her husband thought otherwise.
"I was scared to death," Bobby Johnson said. "I've had her for 58 years. I don't want to lose her."
Mrs. Johnson elected to under go a bilateral mastectomy and not chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Losing both of her breasts, Mrs. Johnson said, "came as a bit of a shock."
"It takes a while to get accustomed to the scarring," she said, adding she also had to deal with losing 80 percent of vision in June 2009 due to unrelated hemorrhaging in her eye.
Mrs. Johnson was born and raised in Canton. She graduated from Canton High School in 1948 and attended business school in Atlanta. She worked with Sears for 10 years, in the school of nursing at Piedmont Hospital for 11 years and at the Bray & Johnson law office in Canton for another 10 years.
The Johnsons have one daughter, three granddaughters, four great-granddaughters and one great-great-grandson. They attend Canton First United Methodist Church.
Mrs. Johnson said she would like to see more women attend the group as they not only can make new friends, but also can learn from other patients' and caretakers' experiences.
She also encourages women, young and old, to perform monthly breast self-exams and to live life to the fullest, even if diagnosed.
"There are no guarantees in life," she said. "My theory is you've got to accept what you can't change and make the best of it."