USC Graduate Celebrates Life After Cancer

9:41 PM, Aug 19, 2011   |    comments
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Jason Mohn (left), Lisa Helfer

Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- The bond between Lisa Helfer and her son Jason Mohn is undeniable.

They have both walked the cobblestone paths of the University of South Carolina's Horseshoe. Jason is an Honors College freshman majoring in Advertising and Public Relations. His mom, Lisa, holds the same degree. As a matter of fact, she has two degrees to her credit as a Gamecock.

And after a brief conversation with them, you'll quickly realize that they are both very educated in the subject of breast cancer.

Ten years ago, Jason was eight and Lisa was fighting for her life.

"If I hadn't survived, then I wouldn't be able to enjoy everything in life, even some of the sorrows like sending your baby to college," Lisa said.

Jason thinks back to the time when he realized the true meaning of the word cancer, "I think when I found out that she had cancer, they immediately said 'It's not life-threatening. There's no chance I'm going to lose my Mom.'"

"But I wanted to be around her I wanted to hang out with her," Jason said. 

Lisa was only 40 years old when she was diagnosed.  She believes her positive outlook on life helped her cope with what became the darkest time for her physically and emotionally.

"They say when you're lying on your deathbed, you're not thinking about work. You're thinking about those things that are most important to you," Lisa said. In the midst of dealing with her personal crisis, Lisa says her heart broke when she learned her mother was also battling breast cancer.

"I was diagnosed in April of 2001, and in August, my mother was diagnosed."

A New York native, Lisa mourned with the nation as we witnessed the terror attacks of 9-11."The whole country was taking stock of their life--9-11 was very important to me as a New Yorker, and my whole family was there. But I had already done that six months earlier when I was originally diagnosed."

Through it all, she has managed to find the good in every treatment, milestone and heartache that are the chapters in her survivor's story. 

On April 2, she celebrated what she calls her 10-year "cancerversary."

"Your best life is out there for you. And it doesn't matter where you are. You can be someone who has some health challenges. You can be someone who doesn't have a lot of money. Those things are tangible, but not really what's important."

It's a lesson that's been a decade in the making But when you're a Gamecock, you not only sing the words to the Alma Mater, you also live them. So, here's a health Carolina, Forever to Thee.

Lisa has been named Palmetto Health Foundation's 2011 Walk for Life 5K Race for Life featured breast cancer survivor. 

The Walk for Life is Oct. 1, 2011 at 8:30 a.m. at Finlay Park in Columbia. All of the money raised stays in the Midlands and benefits the Palmetto Health Breast Center.

If you want to see more of Lisa's story, please click on the link.

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