Cancer survivor loses leg, but not her spirit

Lisa Harvey

Lisa Harvey

RICHMOND, Va. -- All Lisa Harvey wants to do is pick up her mail, but the wheelchair-bound woman living in south Richmond can only wait. The 44-year-old woman is not accustomed to being immobile.

"It is hard. It is very, very hard," Lisa said. "I like to work a lot. I used to have a full-time and two part time jobs."

She spent 21 years working at VCU Medical Center helping cancer patients. But soon she found herself on the receiving end of care.

A series of life-altering illnesses and literally bad breaks turned the single mother’s world upside down.

"I was diagnosed in September 2014," Lisa said. "To find out I had stage two breast cancer, it was pretty devastating."

During chemotherapy and then following a mastectomy, Lisa broke her left ankle which became infected. Her left leg below the knee was removed.

"But MRSA is the reason I lost my leg," Lisa said. "It’s like people grieving the loss of a family member. I grieve the loss of my leg."

After her amputation, Lisa burned her right foot.

An infection required the amputation of some toes.

To make matters worse, she lost her job.

Now with no income Lisa is at wits end.

"I didn’t expect it at all," Lisa said.

She winces thinking about the simple things she cannot do.

"My daughter wants to go to the playground. I just can’t take her. I have to wait for someone to come," Lisa said.

She credited friends and family, like niece Nicole, who rally around her.

"I would do anything for Lisa," Nicole said. "I didn’t realize how much help she needed. I really didn’t."

Volunteers, who were strangers, stepped up so Lisa could roll out.

“That Ramp. I got that ramp through Project Homes," she said.

Lisa Harvey

Lisa Harvey

Pamela Martin is a mental health case manager who works with Lisa.

She called Lisa an inspiration.

"Oh, she has been through a journey," Pamela said. "I call her my humble hero."

With no job, no insurance, mounting unpaid bills, and more surgeries Lisa wonders what’s next. Through it all Lisa tries maintaining a positive attitude.

"My daughter and God are the only two things that keep me," Lisa said.

Lisa Harvey

Lisa Harvey

Lisa wanted nothing more than to heal and return to work so she can provide for herself and her ray of sunshine. And pick up her mail.

"I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I know this too shall pass," she said.

Friends set-up a GoFundMe page to help Lisa and her family.

Greg McQuade features local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email heroes@wtvr.com.

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