The unbridled energy of the youngest dancers on stage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music reminded Lisa Franklin's mother of her only daughter as a child.
"That was Lisa. Always moving. I put her into dance classes very young. I had to," Lisa's mom, Marlene, recalled as we watched DanceAfrica 2015. Lisa was backstage, a treasured guest of those she had danced with for years. Recurrence of her ovarian cancer had weakened her physically, but could not prevent her from attending this performance and sharing the joy and meaning African dance brought to her life.
Lisa's natural energy and its attending poise and discipline infused all aspects of Lisa's endeavors, making her a compelling advocate as a SHARE Ambassador.
Our sorrow at losing her at age 47 on June 24th may be lessened by remembering how well she accomplished the goals she set for herself, and the example she set for others.
Lisa came to SHARE through our ovarian cancer helpline. It quickly became clear to the ovarian cancer survivors who spoke with her that she was ready, willing and able to use her powerful story to raise awareness of ovarian cancer symptoms, most especially in the African American community.
And raise awareness she did: SHARE selected Lisa to attend the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance conference in Washington, D.C. on a scholarship named for Linda Koteen, our late ovarian cancer program director for whom lobbying Congress was a cherished mission. There, Lisa heard about the latest ovarian cancer research, bonded with sister survivors from all over the country, and tirelessly lobbied her representatives on The Hill to support awareness initiatives and research.
Back home in New York, Lisa testified before the City Council and took SHARE materials to health fairs, shopping malls, and churches. She turned her Cancerversary celebration into an awareness event at a fabulous Brooklyn eatery owned by friends. She mobilized friends and families into a formidable presence as part of Team SHARE at the annual Teal Walk in Prospect Park. Lisa's "happy color" was orange, but she took up teal for the cause, and her friends couldn't do enough to support her – designing teal hoop earrings and creating fashion-forward teal ribbon leather bracelets.
Whether in treatment or healing, she did not let ovarian cancer change the person she was at her core. She traveled and had fun. She was both spiritual and practical: as a professional she chose child-protective services for Catholic Charities and most recently worked as a consultant in Texas schools where she evaluated the quality of cultural and arts programs for children.
A spirited and loving daughter, mother, sister and cousin, she was proud of son Justin's academic, professional and creative accomplishments and thrilled to become a doting grandmother to Chase.
Lisa's strength and spirit were recognized by those of us privileged to know her. She was honored in Valley Stream by friends; celebrated by her church; and profiled by WNBC's Pat Battle.
Her response to any accolades was always the same: she said she was humbled. Just like Lisa, that statement was sincere and true.