Connie Johnson awarded OAM as the end draws near

Connie and Samuel Johnson lay coins for the Love Your Sister big heart project in an effort to break the world record for the greatest number of coins collected in one place at the Lyneham netball courts Canberra. All proceeds go to eradicating cancer. Photo by Karleen Minney.
Connie and Samuel Johnson lay coins for the Love Your Sister big heart project in an effort to break the world record for the greatest number of coins collected in one place at the Lyneham netball courts Canberra. All proceeds go to eradicating cancer. Photo by Karleen Minney.

In a little Canberra hospice during her final days, Daylesford’s Connie Johnson has received one of the nation's highest honours.

The Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove popped by Connie's bed on Thursday to award the mother-of-two a medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of her tireless work for breast cancer research.

Actor and brother Samuel Johnson described the moment on social media, and how Connie's eyes danced "like when we were kids" as the medal was handed down with a little pomp and a lot of laughter in a bedside ceremony.

"She looked so alive," Samuel said.

"Afterwards, she looked at me sideways, coz she can't move her head too well, and she kept saying, in her weak and raspy voice...'Can you believe it? Can you believe it? Look what we did. We did something!'"

Together the Johnson siblings have raised millions for cancer research, including more than $2 million during the Big Heart Project that saw a Canberra netball court become a silver sea of 5 cent coins.

Samuel said Sir Peter insisted the ceremony end with a kiss.

"The general gave Connie a so sweet peck on the forehead, before sitting down and yarning like an ordinary bloke. It was so special."

The honour was "just in time", Samuel said. In her bed at Clare Holland House hospice, Connie is finally succumbing to the breast cancer that has racked her body for seven years.

"Her time is nigh. Let's prepare, villagers. It'll be very soon," Samuel wrote.

While Connie's health was initially very dire when she first arrived at the hospice in July this year, for a time her condition ???stabilised.

In August, Connie spoke to Fairfax Media of her determination to stay alive for your younger son's 10th birthday later this month.

"I've been told I really suck at retirement," she said at the time with a smile.

On Thursday night, Samuel took to social media to recount the official words of the ceremony, assuring supporters it was a faithful transcription.

'Your Excellency, to be awarded the Medal of Australia in the General Division, Mrs Connie Johnson, for service to people with breast cancer," Samuel wrote.

"Mrs Johnson is a person who is simply inspirational. Her creation and leadership of the Love Your Sister Village has done much to encourage other Australian women to undergo regular screening and has also raised vital funds to support cancer research.

"She's become one of this nation's foremost advocates of the importance of early detection, and the need to find a cure. In the process she's rallied many others to join with her to assist this endeavour.

"Through her drive and determination, and in the face of significant obstacles, she's achieved in a few short years what most people could only hope to achieve in a lifetime. Mrs Johnson's efforts for our community will endure. She is most deserving of our nation's gratitude and admiration.

She will never be forgotten.

Mrs Connie Johnson, awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.'

More to come.