The chief mission of the Women Survivors Alliance is to help women re-enter their lives after cancer. And one of the best ways to do that is to create something that helps other survivors in their journeys. It’s a 2nd Act, baby, and it’s a win-win for all! Lisa’s story is a perfect example.
You have CANCER! Those were the words I heard in 2011 at the age of 42. As I sat in my doctor’s office, it seemed as if everything she was saying, was in slow motion. “Did she really say that I have CANCER?”
Nine months before I was diagnosed, I had my first mammogram. I know, I was supposed to have it when I turned 40 but I was scared. My grandmother died of breast cancer and I was scared of dying like that one day. Some people won’t admit their fear of death but I will. Two mammograms, two biopsies and one diagnosis all in a matter of nine months and then my journey began: Stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma and Ductal Carcinoma INSITU (Breast Cancer) of the left breast and my left underarm.
My estrogen was feeding my cancer and because I waited so late to get a mammogram, it spread and was growing rapidly. I endured six rounds of AC (a.k.a Adriamycin and Cyclophosphamide) and 12 rounds of Taxol, plus 25 radiation treatments. Through it all, I smiled.
I made the hard decision to have a bilateral mastectomy only for my piece of mind. I choose life over a body part and I didn’t think twice about it. There were some tears, some sleepless nights and incredible pain, but I knew that there was light at the end of the tunnel.
People wondered where my sunshine came from; why I smiled so much and found joy in the smallest thing. They wondered why I danced like no one was watching. It was because of my faith in God. My purpose in life was now confirmed. For years I thought I knew but now, it was certified and stamped by my journey. I believe that my purpose is to help others. How could I do so without going through a battle and coming out victorious?
I founded the non-profit organization, Purpose Driven, Lives Saved (PDLS), in April 2013 after finishing a two year battle with cancer. Surviving cancer and realizing that my daughter, if she was not actively living a healthy lifestyle, could have the same issues when she got older, helped form the basis of this non-profit. My journey has proved to be a testimony to many others – through the connections formed with others who are going through the same journey,
I have been able to be a voice of comfort and inspiration. I have authored a book entitled Walking by Faith, The Fight Against Cancer, which also served as a foundation to the start of PDLS. In addition to PDLS, my other passion is softball. I have run two successful teams, one of which is under the name of my own heart, “One Love.” I instill the same principles of eating healthy and being active amongst my teammates as I do through PDLS.
All the work I have done at National Institutes of Health has only strengthened my belief about living a healthy, active, and fulfilling life. My goal for Purpose Driven, Lives Saved is to change this generation by promoting self-worth, teaching children and adults how to eat healthy and be active, along with the benefits intertwined with this lifestyle.
I’m fighting for those who didn’t know how to fight but want to live.