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Philippians 4:13 --- “I can do all things through Christ who
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In The Spotlight   In The Spotlight 

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Lisa Vaughn: Surviving With a Smile

Having your hair fall out from the effects of chemotherapy is no laughing matter. But when it happened to Lisa Vaughn on the Fourth of July last year, she laughs and says it “came out with a bang.”
“There’s nothing funny about losing your hair, unless you have Jimmy Vaughn as a husband,” she says. “When it started to come out, I told Jimmy if he had ever felt like pulling my hair out, now was the time.” Jimmy reached up with a playful yank and was rewarded with a handful of long, blonde hair. “The look on his face was the funniest thing I have ever witnessed,” she recalls. “He looked as if he wanted to put it back, but couldn’t figure out how.”
Figuring out the “how and why” of breast cancer is an even more difficult task. Lisa had previously had surgery to remove cysts with atypical cells, but two six-month mammograms came back normal. When she returned for an annual checkup on April 10, 2013, she felt healthier than ever -- and not the least bit concerned.
In fact, even when the radiologist requested a couple more pictures, Lisa was unperturbed. “But when Dr. Oswaks showed me the ultrasound, I knew there was a problem.” In the past, the cysts were smooth all the way around. This one was jagged at the top, like a flame.
Lisa told the doctor, “Oh, that’s not good.” And Dr. Oswaks replied, “No, it is not.” A biopsy was conducted in the office, and Lisa was told that, whatever it was, it would have to come out.
The call came first thing the following morning. Lisa, who serves as Executive Director of Bethel University’s College of Professional Studies, was in her office when she was told she had cancer. “Suddenly, I felt like I was freezing. I just kept thinking I had misunderstood.”
But she hadn’t, and the words slowly sunk in.
“I had heard it’s difficult to tell your family,” Lisa says, “but I never understood why until that moment. How could I tell the man I love I had this terrible disease? How could I tell Trae, my youngest child, that his mama was sick? How could I tell my oldest child, Aaron, that rather than being there for the birth of his child – my first grandchild – that I might be too sick? How could I tell my dad, who had lost a wife to breast cancer, that his only child had the same disease? I remember the overwhelming sense that I was letting everyone down.”
Jimmy’s first question was, “Why you?” And Lisa responded, “Why not me? Why anyone?”
The following Monday, Lisa learned that she had Stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma. A lumpectomy was performed on April 25th, and radiation was scheduled using a balloon catheter, which allows more radiation treatments in a shorter amount of time. “I had 10 treatments in five days,” Lisa recalls. “I was blessed, because my only side effect was being tired.”
It helped that Jimmy was with her every step of the way. “Each day, we had six hours to pass between treatments. Jimmy took me riding, out to eat, and to flower shops and vegetable stands. He took me to have a manicure and pedicure. He even made the trips interesting by taking a different route home every day.”
Chemotherapy started on June 20th. A low point came on June 26th, when Lisa’s white blood cell count fell from a healthy level of 7,500 to a dangerous count of just 500. She was immediately admitted to the hospital.
Fourteen days after starting chemotherapy – and right on her oncologist’s projected schedule – her hair began to fall out. The very next day, July 5th, Trae shaved her head.
“I knew 2013 was going to be a big year for me,” she says. “I was celebrating my 30-year class reunion, my 30th wedding anniversary, and the birth of my first grandchild – Parker Kaye Vaughn.” While Lisa never thought she would attend her class reunion bald, and with her face swollen from the effects of medication, she went anyway. “And you know what? I didn’t care, and neither did anyone else.”
While she has been told that her cancer has a 40% chance of returning, Lisa is focused and positive. “I’ve learned we have all been given a precious gift, and it is life. We need to embrace it, and not take it for granted. I have gained knowledge of who I want to be, rather than just who I have been. I have too much to live for to worry about cancer.”
She has also learned that people care, whether they know you or not. “Many people have asked me my name so they could pray for me. Prayer makes a difference – I am proof of that. Others have squeezed my hand or patted my back and said, ‘You are going to win this battle.’”
A new, surprisingly curly head of hair has cropped up where her straight hair used to be. If Jimmy Vaughn decides to tug at it this time, he’ll find it’s deeply-rooted and resilient – just like Lisa herself.

~ By PR Director Cindy Chambers



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