The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


Keeping Hope


Lisa Covington, a patient with breast cancer, hopes to cross off meeting Ellen Degeneres from her bucket list

Lisa Covington, the mother of junior Brennon Covington and 2011 graduate Blake, has been fighting breast cancer for over ten years. Covington was originally diagnosed at 31-years-old with stage two breast cancer. She has been fighting non-stop since her relapse in 2003.  Friends and family have been doing what they can to fulfill Covington’s dream of meeting celebrity Ellen Degeneres. Through social media, #HopeRocks for Lisa Covington, supporters from the community have been trying to spread her story to make this meeting possible.

When were you diagnosed with breast cancer?

I was originally diagnosed a long time ago. Brennon was four-years-old. My older son, Blake, was seven. I was 31-years-old. I just was diagnosed with stage two, which is a very early stage. We thought: ‘Well we’ll just do the surgery and do the standard amount of chemotherapy, and it’ll go away.’ Well, it went away for a couple of years. Unfortunately told me there was an eight percent chance for to come back. It came back in my lungs in 2003. After 2003 it kind of stayed with me ever since then. Because it was in a major organ it stayed with me and considered a stage four. So for the last ten years, I have been fighting pretty much non-stop. Sometimes it’ll go into remission and then come back, go into remission and come back. I have stopped working since 2012. is pretty much everywhere right now. It went into my brain about six months ago. I had about three tumors in my brain, and then a couple months after that it went all over my brain. I have 12 tumors in my brain right now that they have radiated. When they do the radiation, they have to stop the chemotherapy, so when the chemotherapy stops, grows other places. Because they had to stop chemotherapy, it started growing in my lungs again. That’s why I am on the oxygen. Hopefully it will be back under control soon enough where I can get off the oxygen. It seems that it has been getting progressively worse over the last ten years. We moved into the town homes last year because they know my health has to be top priority. We have had to make some sacrifices and make the house go. Unfortunately my health has to take priority.



What was your and your family’s initial response?

I think to the boys it was very scary. Of course it is very scary, every time I go to the doctor they tell me I have a new tumor. They have said that I am terminal. When says that, I don’t think of it that way, until I see it in black and white on a piece of paper that she has filled out. It hits you when they say you are terminal. I pretty much just wait until they find a drug that is going to help me. How far they have come since 2010 is even amazing. It is incredible. I have what is called a portacath, where they put the medicine in, it is a device they implant in my chest and it goes down towards my heart and main artery. That way they don’t have to keep poking me in the vain in my arm. Because I have been battling for, so long I don’t have any veins left. They are ‘blow,’ which means a needle will just go through, my veins aren’t strong enough. I have had mine for over ten years, and is outdated. Whenever I go to my doctor’s I can’t do everything they need me to do because it was so out dated. I had a surgery about a month ago and I am now just starting to heal from it. They have had to take it out and throw it away and put a new in that is updated. Now they can do more things, since it is more advanced than they did with the old one. I just pray that research is gonna get me another year, get me another six months, another five years. Who knows? has really come a long way.


How has your condition changed your life?

In the beginning I considered it to be: ‘Ugh it is so annoying. I cannot believe this is happening. I have so many things to do.’ I went ahead and finished my bachelors degree and started my master’s degree, while I had cancer. I had two little kids. I still worked full time. I was determined to do everything that I wanted to do. I am not going to let my cancer ruin my life, and that was 13 years ago. I still did everything I wanted to do and more. I used to be a professional singer, so I used my cancer as an opportunity to do things like sing the National Anthem at the Chiefs game. I sang the National Anthem at a Royals game. I was in a band for seven years. I just did things that I just wanted to do. I’m not going to let that change anything. Actually I am going to use it to my advantage. I am going to use my story to tell people that just because you have stage four doesn’t mean that it has to be over. People think ‘oh my god stage four you are going to die.’ Maybe, very well maybe. This is terminal disease, but you have to look at it like it is a disease that you can live with, you can thrive with, you can really do amazing things. It really has changed like we do fundraising events all the time and I am very active with Susan G. Komen and the Young Survivors Coalition, we do all kinds of activities and fundraising. Just to celebrate life and celebrate what we have been through and to get the word out that you can live with cancer and breast cancer and have a full life.


What sort of treatments do you go through?

Right now I just finished 20 brain radiation treatments. I have done radiation, hormone therapy and chemotherapy. I do have a say, like ‘Yes I want to do it, and no I don’t want to do it.’ But there is going to be a point where I am going to say ‘I don’t want to do it anymore.’ Does that mean I have given up? Maybe. Can I take it anymore? I don’t know when that is going to come. But I will know and the doctors will tell me there is nothing we can do. They haven’t said that yet, which is crazy I think. Well, they know me and they know my strength. My goals are to raise my children, upon my biggest, to get Brennon through high school, to get Blake through high school and college, to get Brennon through college and get them out on their own. wanted to raise them together and not leave them. I know that is sad, but that is reality.



What is it like to be in that type of pain?

You kind of get used to it. and I were sitting here the other night and I had just finished brain radiation. I just had some weird side effects that didn’t seem right on the side of my face. I was like ‘Do you think we should go to the emergency room?’ I called my doctor and said ‘These are my symptoms. Should I come in?’ It was a Friday night. It was 8 p.m. She said ‘I would feel better if you just came in.’ I got admitted and had them take a look at it. My ear felt like it was inflamed, I had a bloody nose and my eye was swollen. I had a little bit of a headache on side of my head. On the way to the emergency room I was in the car with Blake because no one else was home. I said, ‘Is this normal?’ He said, ‘It’s not normal for any other family. Any other family would be like this is crazy and serious.’ But for me this is just our normal activities, like any other day. It is normal for me to be on oxygen, for me to not be able to walk to the top of the stairs, for me not be able to do certain things, or for me not having enough energy. Another family would go, ‘Oh this sucks. I can’t believe they have to go through that.’ It is something that we have learned to deal with in a daily basis. It is just a part of our life now.


Why Ellen out of all celebrities?

I think that I have had some amazing opportunities, like sing the National Anthem for example and thats something you normally don’t get to do. Obviously in the Midwest you don’t get to out to California and meet a famous person. When we go out there we occasionally see somebody famous, but nothing like meeting Ellen or anything like that. But Ellen has a way; she makes you smile. She makes me laugh even when I am crying. I would start feeling down and that is normal in this type of situation. Some days are better. I would say out of the week I only have two good days in a week just because of the treatment I am on makes me so tired. I’m just tired, exhausted and in pain. So it is not an ideal situation I am in right now. I have to rest a lot. makes me laugh, hysterically laugh when I am sitting here by myself. I would love to be able to convey to her: ‘Thank you. Thank you for making me laugh everyday.’ She does some amazing things. Not just in her community, but with the world. For me to be able to have a platform to say, ‘I have had stage four breast cancer and am still here and still fighting’ and just to get that message out to everybody would be amazing.


When did you start to making the meeting with Ellen possible?

I didn’t. I have some amazing friends and supporters. With all my support with Susan G. Komen and Young Survivors Coalition, there are other survivors that are behind me in battle. They are driven and support me or friends who have been supporting me said you have to do this. They have got rallied and did the flash mob and surprised me with that, surprise fundraisers just things that they want to make it happen for me. My friends and family want me to experience things that I don’t normally experience because of my situation. I know a girl from New York, her sister nannies for Kevin Nealon. He knows Ellen and he goes, ‘Well if she wants to meet Ellen then lets let her meet her.’ I don’t know if I want it to be like that. I don’t know if I just want to fly out there and say hi. I want to be on the show. I am not being picky. I think everything was rushed at first. I think if it is going to happen, it will be down the road. I just need to be a little more patient. I want it to happen where the producers call me to make this happen. Maybe they will call me in Oct. where it is breast cancer awareness month.


Who has been supporting you all the way?

My husband and my kids, definitely. It is interesting because I have my husband and my two boys. One of them will take the lead at different times. Like if I am sitting here crying and I am having a rough day, one of the boys will come up and cheer me up. Sorry I can’t finish that.

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