Lisa Facer is the face of resilience. Since 2008, when she was first diagnosed with HER-2 positive breast cancer, Lisa has been waging a quiet, steady war against the disease. Nothing stops her. But she doesn’t just fight for her own health; she fights for all women—now and in the future.
HER-2 is an aggressive form of breast cancer that stems from a gene mutation. It has a tendency to spread and to recur.
After Lisa was diagnosed at age 52, she found Ron Bose, MD, PhD, a Washington University medical oncologist at the Siteman Cancer Center who specializes in HER-2 positive breast cancer.
“In 2008, HER-2 positive breast cancer was a very scary diagnosis,” Lisa says. “I knew I had to get to Siteman and was very fortunate to find Dr. Bose. He is one of the best HER-2 researchers and medical oncologists in the country. He offered me an opportunity to be in a clinical trial that provided me access to a drug that wasn’t available as part of the standard of care.”
She credits this study—and Dr. Bose— with saving her life.
“Because of research, I have seen so many advances in just the past two years that have resulted in HER-2 breast cancer being treated more like a chronic disease,” Lisa says. “That’s why it’s so important for people to get to a comprehensive cancer center like Siteman.”
To speed research on HER-2, Lisa supports Dr. Bose’s research laboratory through gifts to The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
Committing to Make a Difference
Lisa is committed on every level to cancer research. Even before her own diagnosis, Lisa began supporting The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital in 1999, after her father passed away from colon cancer. Then in 2006, her mother also died of cancer. Just two years later, Lisa was diagnosed with breast cancer and began her own personal journey.
“I made the decision to fund a researcher who I believe is going to make a difference in breast cancer,” Lisa says. “ That’s Dr. Bose.”
Dr. Bose’s breast cancer research at Siteman has been recognized both nationally and internationally and has led to a Phase II clinical trial.
“The trial is offering hope to metastatic breast cancer patients where there had been very little hope,” Lisa says. “Through Dr. Bose’s research, doctors are transforming the standard of care for breast cancer around the world and are now saving tens of thousands of women’s lives. To know I’ve been a part of that is so amazing.”
Sharing Knowledge, Experience and a Hand to Hold
In addition to financial support, Lisa gives her time, energy and compassion. Over the past five years, this former corporate bond trader became a hospital volunteer and a patient advocate. She has immersed herself in breast cancer research, serves on study review boards and admittedly “knows the research inside and out.” Lisa can expertly share the latest information about HER-2 positive breast cancer and the various breast cancer studies being conducted around the country.
To provide other cancer patients with hope and support, Lisa volunteers at least once a week at Siteman’s facility at Barnes- Jewish West County Hospital.
“Since I don’t have family in St. Louis, I didn’t have someone for support when I was first diagnosed,” she says. “I know what it’s like to go through the treatments and can listen and offer answers to alleviate patients’ fears and anxieties.”
Her generosity and concern for others also led her to donate bells to the chemotherapy and radiation oncology areas at all the Siteman facilities. Patients ring these bells in celebration after they have completed their final treatment. “It’s a wonderful, liberating feeling to ring the bell,” Lisa says. “It represents a huge step toward a new life.”
Living By Example
Through all her experience with cancer, Lisa has leaned on characteristics her parents instilled in her as a child: ethics, integrity, persistence and tenacity. Now she must lean heavily on these traits again.
Soon after Lisa received the Exceptional Donor Award from The Foundation in October, she learned her cancer had returned. Her persistence, tenacity and resilience carry her again as she fights this round against cancer with a continued positive spirit. Within days of her diagnosis, she already had a plan in motion.
“My next step is to do genome sequencing,” Lisa says. “Welcome to the 21st century! The future of cancer care is to make genome sequencing the standard of care so doctors can identify specific tumor types for more targeted therapy.”
The philosophy she shares with other patients is to just keep going. “I just put one foot in front of the other and try to stay positive and optimistic,” Lisa says. “Supporting cancer research has been the biggest thing for me. It has brought me great joy to be able to do things to help others.”
To join Lisa in the fight against breast cancer, please make a gift to the ‘Ohana Breast Cancer Research Fund (#B1376-40) at The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital. For more information, call 314-286-0600 or email GivingBarnesJewish@bjc.org.