People: Relay for Life team member Lisa Lewis

May 03, 2004|ANN R. HARNEY

Lisa Lewis' cancer has been in remission twice, but her fight to find a cure for the disease has been unremitting over the last four years.

Relay for Life has been active in Boyle County for about the same length of time as Lewis' illness. In December 2000 she found a lump in one of her breasts, and in September 2002 another lump was found. Both were removed, but in October 2003 she began to have headaches and was sick at her stomach.

Like many people, Lewis thought she had a virus, but the headaches increased, and by the time she began radiation to reduce the size of the seven tumors in her brain, she had lost her sight.

Lewis patiently answers questions about her illness, explaining that the most recent tumors in her brain are a result of her initial breast cancer that has spread to her brain. While she is willing to discuss her illness, what she really wants to talk about is her efforts and those of her Relay for Life team to raise $5,000.


She settled on $5,000, she said, because Farmers National Bank, a primary sponsor of Relay for Life, raised a little more than $4,000 last year and she wants to surpass that number. Two of the Boyle County Relay founders, Lena Bradshaw and Debbie Lowe, work at the bank.

Lewis has decided how best to come up with the $5,000. "If everybody in Boyle County that has been touched by cancer would send me $2, I could raise $5,000. I want a cure for this disease more than I want to beat Farmers," she said.

She can barely contain her joy as she waits for a chance to tell about one of the main fund-raisers that her Relay team has come up with.

"We have a hot pink toilet,'' she begins. It was taken out of an older house and was originally white, but the Relay and American Cancer Society colors are pink and purple. The commode top and seat are spray-painted purple.

It should come as no surprise that her team's motto and theme are "Flushing out cancer.''

"We have fun with it,'' she said.

Lewis' team is one of 22 formed last year, and Relay members hope to double that number this year. Each team has 15 members.

But back to the pink toilet. Team members move the toilet to the front yards of various people and businesses around the area. The homeowner can have it removed by the team members by making a contribution to the team. Last week, the commode was at the home of Boyle County Sheriff LeeRoy Hardin. His wife, Cheryl, is a co-captain along with Lewis of their Relay team.

That's not the end of their plan. If a person would like to have the toilet delivered to a specific location, that, too, can be done by making a donation. Last year, Relay for Life in Boyle County raised $48,000; this year's goal is higher.

"Boyle County should be capable of $60,000," Lewis said. Her team has other fund-raisers planned, including a bake sale and a skating party. The owners of the War Zone Paint Ball Field in Junction City allowed Relay members to hold a paint-ball tournament and donated the fees and profits from refreshment sales.

A yard sale is planned for May 15 at Wee Kare Daycare. Cheryl Hardin owns the day-care center, and that is where Lewis worked before she became disabled.

Lewis credits her survival in part to those who have treated her cancer. "I've got wonderful doctors,'' she said. She calls the Markey Cancer Center at the University of Kentucky Medical Center her second home. She names Dr. Edward Romond, her oncologist at UK, and Danville radiation therapist Dr. Gregory Carlson as those instrumental in her treatment.

And she thanks friends and neighbors who have taken her to her treatments so her husband does not have to be absent from his job in Lexington. Husband Chad Lewis, who was 24 when she was first diagnosed, has stayed by her side through this frightening illness.

"He's a wonderful support partner,'' she says. "A lot of people can't deal with it."

And she has another team member she is certain will pull her through her latest cancer battle.

"I've got the Lord on my side,'' she said. "He's my partner in this, too. He's on my team. He has other plans for me."

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