LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The sound of car engines speeding around a dirt track is like music to the ears of Missy Johnson.
She married into a family where all of the men are race car drivers. In addition to racing, they build their own dirt cars and dragsters in their home garage. As Missy says, “It’s the place where all the magic happens,” and that kind of magic wins checkered flags.
When the cars rev their engines, you’ll find Missy in the pit watching, the same as she was on one particular night last year. It was opening weekend at the former I-30 Speedway in Little Rock.
As the cars where racing around the track, two cars collided, and they both went airborne. At that moment Missy remembers thinking, “They’ll stay on the track. They always stay on the track.”
But not this time. One of the cars headed directly toward Missy, who stood there frozen until one man stepped in to save her.
“A man standing beside me, his name is Rob Jenkins, he just grabbed me by my coat, and he screamed, ‘Run!’ And he just kind of threw me,” she recalled.
That rescue came not a moment too soon. One of the cars landed right where Missy stood. While she had dodged that near-death experience, another danger was about to make its presence known.
“When he threw me, that’s when I took a couple of steps, and that’s when I fell,” she said.
Missy was knocked unconscious and sent to the hospital where she got a full body CT scan. Doctors released her the next day, leaving Missy realizing she had cheated death, even though she did not know there was another problem on the horizon, one that ended up being totally shocking.
From near-death to new lease on life
Following her near-death experience at the racetrack, the radiologist examining her CT scan called telling her it showed something in her colon.
Interestingly, just a few months prior to the crash, Missy’s doctor suggested she get a colonoscopy. She refused and laughed it off, saying she was totally fine and didn’t have any symptoms.
Her plan was to wait until she turned 50 to get her first colonoscopy, which wouldn’t happen for another three years.
After the near-miss by the crash, though, Missy took the advice of the radiologist and saw another physician. After an additional screening, Missy discovered she had stage-two colon cancer, news that left her shocked.
“It just took my breath away,” she recalled.
Missy’s oncologist, Dr. Patrick Szeto at CHI St. Vincent, explained some colon cancers are silent. He called Missy’s near miss at the racetrack “a blessing in disguise.”
“Her CT scan did not show any metastatic disease, so we ontologically removed the cancer,” Szeto said.
Missy said her new cancer-free status makes her “a miracle,” and that her narrow escape from the crash followed by her fall and unexpected diagnosis has created a new mission.
“God gave me a story to tell, and it’s to encourage other people, get your colonoscopy at 45,” she said, adding that she plans to tell her story to anyone who will listen, hoping it will give them a little extra time in life to race toward their own finish line.