EXCLUSIVE: Samuel Johnson talks about life without his sister Connie, 6 years on.

Play For Purpose
Thanks to our brand partner, Play For Purpose

When Aussie actor Samuel Johnson and his sister Connie started the charity Love Your Sister 10 years ago, they dreamt of a different world for cancer patients. One where everyone would receive Precision Medicine and never again have to experience what Connie did, as she went through three different treatments before coming across the right one for her, though too late. 

Through Love Your Sister, they advocated and fundraised for “the right treatment for every cancer patient, first time, every time”.

Now, after six years since Connie passed away from breast cancer, the world they envisioned is becoming a reality.

“The difference between life for a cancer patient when my sister Connie was alive a few years back to now is starkly different. It's like when TV went from black and white to colour,” Samuel tells Mamamia from his home via Zoom. "Everything that Connie and I fought and worked so hard for and dreamt for is happening now.

“Now all children with cancer in Australia receive Precision Medicine, and we, along with many others, are rolling out Precision Medicine to all cancer patients by funding the MoST [Molecular Screening and Therapeutics program] expansion program, which brings Precision Medicine to rural, regional, and remote areas, while we’ve also put $6 million into the MoST program and helped access to Precision Medicine for patients in major centres.

“I'm proud to be a small part of the solution to a big problem. It's a big table. There's a lot of people at it. They call it an army for a reason, from patient care through to research and science, fundraising and community actions. It can't happen soon enough, but it’s good to see it happening.”


How does he think Connie would feel about all of this? 

“I know exactly how Connie would've felt about all of this because I'm doing her work and I'm doing exactly what she told me to do,” Samuel says. 

“To see the wheels turning I know would be lifting her spirits and certainly keeps me working every day.” 

Listen to Mia Freedman's 2018 No Filter interview with Samuel Johnson, as he gets candid about the unexpected turns of the first year without Connie. Post continues below. 

“No skimming. No bulls**t.”

Since its inception, Love Your Sister has worked towards “vanquishing cancer” by raising close to $20 million with 100 per cent of every donation received going towards scientific research. 

As Samuel says of the donations, there’s “No skimming. No bulls**t.”

A longtime partner in helping meet their fundraising goals has been Play For Purpose, a not-for-profit charity raffle, which helps over 500-plus charities, including Love Your Sister, fundraise while giving supporters the chance to win a share in 395 amazing prizes. Tickets are just $10, with at least $5 from every ticket guaranteed to support your charity of choice, the other half funding the prizes – and everything over and above going back to good causes.

Love Your Sister has partnered with Play For Purpose since 2018. Samuel says, “This will blow your mind – it certainly blew my hippie noodle: The amount that our generous villagers have raised for Love Your Sister, which is nearly $1.5 million, has been matched in how much they've won.”


It’s worked so well for Love Your Sister supporters that nearly 4,000 “villagers”, as Samuel refers to supporters, are now AutoPlay subscribers, which means they're supporting all four raffles during the year, each giving away $300,000 worth of prizes, with the first prize valued at a cool $250,000.

“It's been a win-win-win. Raffle supporters win, the nominated charity wins and the community wins. So to know that our villagers have received so many prizes, when you look at their support, that fills my heart to the brim,” Samuel says. 

“Grief is forever.”

With all the amazing work he’s been doing with Love Your Sister, Samuel says his grief over losing Connie remains but has evolved. 

“I don't think there's such a thing as closure. I see grief as a permanent scar, and everybody sees grief differently and everybody feels grief differently depending on who they lose,” Samuel tells Mamamia.

“It's a forever thing. My grief for my sister, Connie, as an example, has lessened because of the work that I feel we are still doing. With Lanie, who was my partner who died by suicide in 2006, my grief for her has only grown and compounded over time. That sense of grief is more powerful for Lanie than it's ever been,” he admits.

“Whereas the grief for my sister, Connie, kind of runs the other way. We shared half a life together. I'm doing her work and nearly every day I'm in a room that she'd be in if she was still around and I’m playing videos of my sister and seeing her alive all the time. 


“So with Connie, I understand that physically she's dead, [but] she's very much still alive, therefore lessening my grief towards her loss. The fact that she died is kind of secondary to me. 

“What's most important is that she still lives here,” he gestures around his room, “and that we still do our work together. So in a non-physical sense, she's still very much alive.” 

As for what the next ten years look like for Love Your Sister, Samuel is continuing his work with this sole focus: “I hope that every cancer patient receives Precision Medicine while I'm still breathing.” 

If you’d like to support the amazing work of a local Australian charity close to your heart, like Love Your Sister, head to Play For Purpose, buy a ticket and nominate your cause.

Play For Purpose charity raffle tickets are just $10, so get behind the community cause closest to your heart for your chance to WIN a $250,000 first prize pack. For the latest raffle prizes, see playforpurpose.com.au.

If you’re an established ACNC registered charity looking to supercharge your fundraising, contact the Play For Purpose team to learn more about becoming a charity partner. Promoter is 50-50 Foundation Ltd. Entry open to Australian residents who are aged 18 years or older. See full T&Cs at playforpurpose.com.au.

Feature Image: Facebook/@loveyoursister

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