On the day of his sister Connie Johnson's funeral, Gold Logie winning actor Samuel Johnson has said the significance of her fight against cancer and the lessons she lived by "have become most profound" in the ten days since her death.
Speaking to 'The Project' on Monday night, Johnson said he considers himself a "student" of Connie's and appointed himself "head of cancer vanquishment in this country" in her absence.
— The Project (@theprojecttv) September 18, 2017
"It took her to die for me to learn anything about her. All the lessons are coming really quick and strong, you know. It's a very heightened time. Really, it's only in her absence that her lessons have become most profound," he said.
"I thought that our quest to raise $10 million was it. I thought that my role now was to be the chief custodian of Connie's legacy. And I've realised that if I think that, then I haven't learned the lessons. I'm not chief custodian of her legacy. She's just been training me up, mate. This was an apprenticeship.
"I'm appointing myself here on national television, right now, head of cancer vanquishment in this country. If anyone wants to challenge me for that position, go... It's not about hitting $10 million, it's about solving the problem we call cancer. I want to issue a friendly warning to anyone with influence, with leverage, with power, with money, we're coming to get them."
Forty-year-old Connie, the founder of the charity Love Your Sister which has managed to raise more than $7 million for cancer research, was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer in 2009. After deciding to end all treatment in April, she finally lost her battle on September 8, surrounded by close family.
In the 24 hours before her passing, Connie was also awarded a medal of the Order of Australia from Governor General Peter Cosgrove to acknowledge the incredible work she has done to campaign for cancer research.
In light of what he sees as his new role, Johnson told 'The Project' panel that he plans to now increase his push to find a cure for cancer, hinting that he may be looking at continuing the work Connie started in lobbying politicians for further research funding.
"I will accelerate the push for a cure -- I'm sick of tapping families that can't afford it. Everyone on ground level is doing enough. I'm out for the rest now. I'm not going to stop, mate," he said.
"I want to ramp it up. I realised we can't get to a cure -- I could shake tins in small communities around the country for the rest of my days and it won't provide the push we need to get the cure. So, through her lobbying in Canberra... I'm learning that maybe I've been playing the small game.
"I've realised this isn't the end. I've realised this is just the beginning, mate. She was training her little brother to do her work when she was gone. I'm ready for that."
She taught us so much! Love life as much as you can ❤️— Jill Dalton (@jillyd72) September 18, 2017
Further to that, the actor also announced the launch of Connie Cottonsocks -- an initiative from Love Your Sister to sell pink and blue socks in order to raise further funds for cancer research.
"Since we were kids, my name was Sammy Seal and my sister's name was Connie Cotton Socks. I made some Connie Cotton Socks. Seeing as Carrie has the beanie thing covered, I thought we would do the sock thing and cover the cancer conundrum from head to toe," he said.
"When I saw [Connie] in the hospice and told her about the idea, it was like, not everyone is a girl in the village, there's some boys. I know that pink is gender neutral now and everything, but there's going to be some boys that want blue ones, so maybe we could have some Sammy Seal ones.
"You know what she said,without skipping a beat? She said, 'Sam, you've done this your whole life... You have to turn everything into a sock-ularity contest". She will stop at nothing, clearly. I would like people to buy Connie Cottonsocks. We will pass the money on."