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East Side Story: Bat girl swings back at cancer

Posted: May 15, 2012 4:00 a.m.
Updated: May 15, 2012 4:00 a.m.

Canyon Country resident Lisa Lewis, a mother of two and breast cancer survivor, holds up a certificate of recognition at Dodger Stadium on Sunday.

When it comes to a fight, Lisa Lewis steps up to the plate.

Today, the Canyon Country mother of two and breast cancer survivor is officially an honorary Los Angeles Dodgers Bat Girl after she stepped up to the plate at Dodger Stadium on Sunday to honor breast cancer survivors.

Lewis joined other 2012 Honorary Bat Girl contest winners from across the country on Mother’s Day when Major League Baseball held its national “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” awareness campaign.

Winners were chosen on the merits of essays written by cancer survivors about their ordeals.

For Lewis, the struggle against cancer began November 2007 when she was diagnosed with stage 3B ductile breast cancer.

“What I really wanted was to give newly diagnosed people hope,” she said about the MLB’s awareness campaign.

“When they see survivors after they get that crazy diagnosis, they can say, ‘Well, they survived, maybe this will be OK.’”

Survivor training

When Major League Baseball officials picked Lewis as L.A.’s local essay winner, they got a third degree black belt with stage 3 breast cancer.

If her “bat girl” moniker implies that she’s some sort of super hero, then she has the credentials to back it up.

Lewis, now 51, moved to Los Angeles from Point Pleasant, N.J., back in 1983.

Eight years later, she moved to Canyon Country and immediately enrolled in martial arts classes taught by sixth-degree black black instructor Ken Lewis — now her husband.

She fought and fought her way through “many obstacles,” she said.

Then one day in November 2007, she found out she had breast cancer.

“The (tae kwon do) master instructor came up to me and said, ‘This is what you’ve been training for. This is the battle you were meant to fight.’

“I have had to overcome so many obstacles,” Lewis told The Signal. “He said ‘You have to fight this fight.’”

That’s what Lisa Lewis did, day after day, week after week, surviving challenge after challenge, including the ordeal of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

“This martial art was a huge influence on how I dealt with all this.”

National awareness

On Mother’s Day, Lewis walked onto the field at Dodger Stadium proudly wearing 50 pink ribbons — each representing a cancer victim — some who survived, some who didn’t.

The focus was surviving breast cancer.

Nine-time Grammy Award-winning singer Bonnie Raitt shared her message with fans via video. Many of baseball’s professional players lifted pink bats when they stepped up to the plate — all in honor of breast cancer awareness.

When it came to introducing Lisa Lewis, an MLB announcer read her essay on surviving chemotherapy, radiation treatment and mastectomy.

In her essay, Lewis wrote: “As a survivor, giving back feels like a responsibility. I share my story of going from what was thought to be early stage 2 to the reality of Stage 3B. 

“Four years out, and I am still here and cancer free.  I share the scars, the side effects ... I tested positive for the BRACA2 gene mutation. I just had a prophylactic right mastectomy. I have never veered away from the most aggressive choices.”

In all, 30 winners of the 2012 Honorary Bat Girl program with similar stories of fortitude have been chosen across the United States, each one of them picked by a guest judging panel made up of MLB players and celebrities.

For Lewis, a longtime Dodgers fan, receiving pink MLB merchandise and two tickets to the game was the perfect Mother’s Day gift.


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