COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Stephanie knows it sounds funny, but being diagnosed with cancer was a relief.
“I slowly lost the ability to eat, to talk, to be a mom, to function.” Four years after being diagnosed with Stage Four tongue cancer in 2017, Stephanie Lewis remembers the struggle leading up to diagnosis.
Lewis thought it was a jaw issue. A physical therapist disagreed, and sent her to a specialist.
“They found significant tumor in my tongue as well as in my mouth,” Lewis recalls the doctor’s explanation. They performed multiple surgeries on one operating table, removing the Stage 4 cancer, removing 3/4 of her tongue, and taking muscle out of one part of her body, to replace her missing tongue.
“Things happen that aren’t fair, but it’s what you do with it that matters.” She says with confidence. So sounding funny, is the least of her worries. Stephanie fought to survive. And her daughters joined the battle.
“At 10, you remember what?” NBC4’s Brad Johansen asked Stephanie’s daughter Marley.
“Teaching my mom how to speak eat drink,” she said.
“Really?” Johansen said with surprise.
“She would take her books, and she would read a page, and I would read a page and she would say that’s not how your pronounce that and I would try again,” Stephanie recalls of her daughter’s coaching.
Last year, Marley joined the Pelotonia fight against cancer, thinking she could sell a few bracelets in Mom’s honor.
“Did you anticipate it would take off like it did?” Johansen wondered. “No we started with 50 bracelets and sold 50 bracelets in 2 hours,” she smiles.
She sold more than 500 and raised more than $12,000. This year for her mom’s four-year anniversary of being cancer free Marley wanted to add four thousand dollars.
“Every 40 dollars I raise I run a mile so as of now I’ve raised 4500 so 115 miles,” Marley said matter-of-factly.
Marley can’t ride until she’s 14, so next year she and Mom will ride together to fund research, Stephanie believes has saved her life.
“We all have an illness or know somebody who has an illness and the more we talk about it, the more we can do about it.”
And being ABLE to talk about it.. is gift. “You sound grateful,” Johansen told Stephanie with a smile. “Beyond.. everyday!”