Cancer survivor who defied odds smashes Maggie’s fundraising aim

Lisa Stephenson. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Lisa Stephenson. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Facing a future plagued with sickening uncertainty and ongoing treatment for terminal cancer is an unbearable reality to accept.

But Lisa Stephenson, diagnosed in 2011 with myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow, saw a silver lining beneath the dark weight of living with cancer forever – an opportunity to turn the nightmare she faced into a positive force for helping others also on the cusp of dealing with the disease.

And her motivating drive has now delivered on a promise she made to herself just one week after hearing she would not survive her diagnosis – to raise £1 million for Maggie’s Edinburgh.

After walking over the threshold for the first time Lisa was completely overwhelemed by the dramatic, and permanent, change in her life. It was an unquanitifable step in guiding her through the last seven years and the moment she knew she had to do something for Maggie’s, not just for the distraction it provided for her but to ensure every single person who has to deal with cancer, can access the type of support and environemnt she has benefitted from.

“Cancer is a word and a diagnosis and for me cancer is terminal and incurable – Maggie’s makes sense of what that means for you. For me it was to understand my illness and what I wanted to do with my family to change my life significantly to prolong my life as long as possible – it helped show me ways forward.”

“I really wanted to give that back and make that support accessible to others. I knew if I could find a vehicle to communicate that then I’d felt that I would be hopefully giving to other what I have been so fortunate to have myself.

“I have no doubt being involved in raising funds has been massively good for me and helped give me a focus.”

Following her diagnosis, Lisa decided to make use of her background in marketing and launched Lisa’s Challenge to highlight the work of the charity.

She told the Evening News in 2013: “Before I float away I would love to get to £1m, that is my big prize goal. Maggie’s has changed my life and I just want to give something back.”

From that moment on, she has doggedly and with an awe-inspiring attitude, dedicated her time to raising £1 million for the cancer support centre.

In a characterisitc display of modesty she accpets little credit for reaching phenomenal target – which will go towards supporting the work of Maggie’s as well as contributing to the new extension at the Centre.

“It’s a team effort I can’t take responsibility for it,” she said. “There have been so many people who have played such a massive part in this fundraising. The Evening News in particular has made a huge difference by backing the Buy-A-Brick campaign.”

Talking to Lisa is always a joy – her warm, generous nature and unwavering positivity is infectious and reflected perfectly in her approach to the future. Lisa finsihed: “I am just looking forward to my wonderful doctor keeping me here longer so we can do more – I have so many ideas!”