Lissa’s Story — Laughing in the Face of Cancer
The journey with cancer can take you places you’d never expect. For Community patient Lissa Sears, it led her on stage with a grin on her face and laughter filling the air. This is her story, and how she found purpose after her battle with cancer.
When Lissa found a lump in her breast in 2014, she sought help right away from her OB/GYN, Dr. Sonja Voelkel. Unfortunately, tests concluded the lump was cancerous. For Dr. Voelkel the next step was clear: put Lissa in touch with our MD Anderson Cancer Network® certified physicians at Community Cancer Center North.
With a care team including Dr. Sumeet Bhatia and Dr. Christina Kim, Lissa had some of the best names in oncology fighting by her side. The clinical care she received was a success — she hadn’t just conquered cancer, she’d made friendships that will last a lifetime.
“I feel like we’re basically family,” says Lissa. “They’re my people. From the head of the cancer center to the valet, they all know who I am and I consider them friends.”
Taking the Stage
Even with a cancer-free diagnosis, Lissa still faced an uphill battle. Multiple sclerosis and the effects of her cancer treatment made her unable to work, and she soon found herself out of a job. That all changed when she met former Colts player Pat McAfee who encouraged her to start a new path.
“My life is stupid crazy and amazing. This was all so unexpected,” she said. At Pat’s suggestion, she tried her hand at stand-up comedy — and she never turned back. Today she’s a talented local comedian and actor with a documentary in the works. “Stand Up/Fall Down Comedy” will document her healthcare journey and how comedy has helped her see life through a positive lens.
“Perception is reality. Attitude determines your altitude. If you choose to open your eyes, you can see the good that can come from any situation.”
Standing Up for Her Community
It’s been several years since Lissa beat cancer, but the COVID-19 pandemic presented new challenges. Venues for stand-up comedy began closing, and she began to look for a new purpose. “When this began, I knew that giving back would be important to me,” she said. “Everyone was making masks. I don’t sew, so I had to get creative.”
She soon found her inspiration when watching the news. A young boy was using 3D printers to make ear savers — helpful tools that reduce the risk of face and ear damage when you’re wearing a face mask. Lissa called up a friend who owned a 3D printer and quickly got to work.
“At the beginning I was making nine ear savers every two and a half hours. With my new set-up I can do 12 every 25 minutes.” To date Lissa has generously donated over 500 ear savers to Community’s first responders and other local caregivers. Her donation means our staff can wear their masks in comfort while caring for those most vulnerable during the pandemic.
“They saved my life,” Lissa says. “The least I can do is save their ears.”
As we weather this pandemic together, It’s such an inspiration to see the community we serve rally around us. If you’d like to follow in Lissa’s footsteps and donate personal protective equipment, your donation will go to great use as our caregivers rise to the challenges of COVID-19.