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Samuel Johnson Interview about Love Your Sister, Breast Cancer Awareness and Unicycles!

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Hi there Travel Tart Readers, today I’ve scored an interview with actor Samuel Johnson. He’s a bit crazy because he wants to ride 15,000 kilometres on a unicycle around Australia to raise Breast Cancer Awareness as well as 1 million dollars for breast cancer research at the Garvan Institute of Australia. But that was enough grounds for me to have a chat to him!

Samuel Johnson Interview - Love Your Sister, Breast Cancer Awareness

He’s aiming to break the Guinness World Book of Record for the longest distance ever ridden on a unicycle. But there is a big personal motivation for this – Sam’s sister Connie has terminal breast cancer, and I think good on him for having a go! You can follow his journey on the Love Your Sister website, Facebook page and Twitter stream.

Samuel has appeared in The Secret Life of Us and a heap of other TV shows. But I’d say this is probably one of the biggest things he’s had a crack at in his lifetime! Anyway, here is the Samuel Johnson chat.

Samuel Johnson talks about Riding Around Australia On A Unicycle to Support Breast Cancer Research

The Travel Tart: Hi Sam, thanks for the chance to chat. I have readers all around the place and some of them may not be too familiar with you, so can you give us a short description about yourself?

Samuel Johnson: I’m average looking, crooked teeth, bit of a horse face, but my goofy style and wonky smile just gets me over the line. As far as personality goes, I’m mostly nice but sometimes I treat things too seriously and take stuff personally. Oh yeah, I go too far sometimes too, which is why unicycling 15,000 km’s kinda suits me.

The Travel Tart: You’re about to embark on a crazy journey to ride a unicycle around a continent for kicks. Sounds a bit nuts to me, but I think the journey will gain a lot of attention! You’ve done a long unicycle trip before from Sydney to Melbourne, so what kind of preparation do you need to undertake (the more unusual, the better!) before riding off into the distance?

Samuel Johnson: Four bananas every Tuesday and Thursday morning, as close to 11am as possible. Triple knots on your shoelaces and tape them down. Regular prayers. I’ve bought lots of good luck charms. Practice distraction techniques. Intense boxing training, where you just put your hands up and get clobbered (pain familiarity technique). And most importantly, hang around friends that take the piss out of you all the time, so you can get used to the baloney you cop out on the road…pink lycra and a unicycle just won’t cut it in some parts of this beautifully diverse country!

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The Travel Tart: I’m sorry to hear about your sister Connie. I’m sure all of us know someone who has been affected by cancer of some sort. What was the main motivation about undertaking this mammoth unicycle journey?

Samuel Johnson With Connie Johnson - Love Your Sister Charity
Samuel Johnson with Connie

Samuel Johnson: Simple. Remind every young mum in the land to be breast aware. 1 in 4 breast cancer patients are under 40. Don’t leave it till you’re older. Get used to checking for lumps and bumps and remind your friends and family too. Early detection is the key to survival. My sister went through two previous cancers and still left it too late.

The Travel Tart: As a cancer survivor myself, I know all too well the importance of research. For example, one of the chemotherapy drugs I was hammered with was discovered by accident, and the subsequent research meant that I’m still alive. Serious! Apparently, one of the drugs I had which was platinum based was discovered by some guy playing with platinum electrodes. He noticed that the electrodes were squeaky clean compared to the rest of the gear which was covered in all sorts of muck. This created the idea of ‘if this stuff kills micro-organisms, what would happen if we used it in humans?’ Anyway, it’s a long story, but if I had scored this type of cancer in the 1970s, put it simply, I would be dead. It’s only the decades of cancer research that has kept me on the planet. What’s your take on the importance of cancer research?

Samuel Johnson: Adult cancer survival rates continue to improve and advances in treatments have bought my sister extra time. Hopefully we’re not too far away from the day when a mother can be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, take a few pills and go home to her family and have it be an inconvenience in her life, not a threat to it. We don’t know how close we are to a cure and we won’t know until we keep trying and eventually stumble across it.

The Travel Tart: One thing that has really struck me about riding a unicycle such a long way is – how do you not wake up with a sore backside each day? Got any tips on how to minimise the grief?

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Samuel Johnson: Jedi mind power. Look, you have to find a way to enjoy it. I’m going to be spending that many hours in the saddle that I have to find ways to make it about things other than the unicycle. I love nature so there’ll always be that to keep me interested. I’ll be on comms with the support crew and the truckies. I’ve got 15,000 songs on my ipod, immaculately play-listed. I’ll be listening to podcasts and learning an American accent. I’ll be thinking of ideas for the online content, reminding myself of everything I need to do when I get off the saddle, voice recording thoughts and, most importantly, ‘zoning out’!

Unicycle Trip - World Record Attempt

The Travel Tart: When I was doing some research for this interview, I came across a quote in one article saying ‘Sam’s doctors have advised him to freeze some of his sperm in case the grueling journey affects ‘some of his closest mates.’ Is this for real? It wouldn’t surprise me if it is!

Samuel Johnson: I’m at a higher risk of impotency now, much like cabbies and truckies, ‘coz of the amount of heat generated, basically. It’s unlikely there’ll be any lasting effects, so it’s just a precaution. I wouldn’t have bothered, but my family made it a condition, as weird as that sounds. They think I’ll make a great dad and don’t want the ride to rob me of that. Family’s everything, so I took their advice.

The Travel Tart: My mantra is that people who assume they are going to live to an average age (around 80 in Australia) are fools because for there to be an average age, half of the population has to die below the average! The point I’m trying to make is that you have no control over when you’re going to leave the planet, so I’m doing my hardest to make sure I enjoy as much of my life as possible. How has your experience with Connie’s illness changed your perceptions of life itself?

Samuel Johnson: You’ve obviously faced off with your maker before. This is how a lot of people who have been threatened with the loss of life live. I agree with everything you’ve said. Life is so fragile and you do have to actively try to live each day as if it’s your last, as sucky as it sounds. If you decide to be tickled by the little moments and live mostly in the present, you’re gonna end up pretty happy. It’s all good in theory at least!

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The Travel Tart: Okay, something a little bit silly. I’d love you to do a drag race somewhere on your trip with a heap of others on unicycles to see who will finish first over the quarter mile. Say for example, on the Nullabor Plain! How cool would a whole convoy of unicycles look?

Samuel Johnson: You know Nullabor isn’t an indigenous word right? It’s Latin. Null meaning nothing, or no, and abor meaning trees. No trees. I always thought it sounded aboriginal, but I was so wrong. Anyway, yes it’d look rad. Would you have them in a line or a cluster?

The Travel Tart: I reckon a line would be spectacular! Once you’ve finished this challenge, I’ve got another one for you. I’ve gone down The World’s Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia on a mountain bike and absolutely loved it. However, I don’t think anyone has done this on a unicycle. Are you up for it? I’ll be right behind you!

Riding Down The World's Most Dangerous Road In Bolivia

Samuel Johnson: Oh we are so on! I’m serious. Don’t even tempt me!

The Travel Tart: Anyway, thanks for the chat and good luck with the trip and raising the money and awareness! I hope you come back with a full sperm count!

Samuel Johnson: Ha! Thanks, and please like and or share us on Facebook if you like what you see!

More about Samuel Johnson:

Samuel Johnson’s sister Connie is dying of Breast Cancer so he’s setting out on an epic challenge. He’s riding around the Australia on a unicycle! It’s all about keeping his promise to Connie:

  • Raise a million dollars for Breast Cancer research
  • Raise awareness of the disease that’s killing her
  • Break the Guinness World Record for the longest distance on a unicycle.

It sounds insane, but Samuel’s good to go. And he leaves on his journey from Melbourne’s Federation Square on February 15th 2013. He’s calling the journey “Love Your Sister” and you can find out more on www.loveyoursister.org.

His quest is all about being breast aware and educating Australia on the importance of early detection. His message is ‘Don’t fall into the booby-trap, be breast aware!’


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