The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

May 12, 2013

Person of the Week: ‘I want to pay it forward’: Cancer survivor stages run/walk to help others

Frank Sojak

JOHNSTOWN — Lisa Rosa is taking her fight to defeat cancer outdoors.

Rosa, a colon-cancer survivor, has organized a run and walk May 25 in Johnstown to increase awareness of colorectal cancer and to raise funds to help patients at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center who are battling various types of cancer.

Called the Lisa Rosa Flood City 9K, the event also includes a 4-mile walk and a two-person relay for people who don’t wish to run the entire 9 kilometers by themselves.

The race begins at 9 a.m. at Trojan Stadium on Central Avenue. The cost to participate is $25 if registered by Saturday. After that date and on race day itself, the cost is $30.

The race will head directly to the nearby James Mayer Riverwalk trail, taking the path to its end in Riverside before heading back through Ferndale Borough. Racers then will jump back on the trail at the Ferndale Bridge.

Rosa, a medical assistant in the trauma department at Memorial Medical Center, has had five operations since being diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011.

“I’m doing very well,” she said. “I am back to almost 100 percent.

“I had a dream that I wanted to help other people and families struggling financially with cancer. I want to pay it forward.”

Rosa said she also wants to help people to understand the importance of paying attention to the warning signs of colorectal cancer.

“I had no symptoms,” she said. “I just had a sudden onset of abdominal pain and nausea when I went to the emergency room.”

Rosa said she has received plenty of support for the event.

Her husband Bruno’s employer, Laurel Auto Group, is the corporate sponsor for the race.

Rosa said the trauma physicians for whom she works – Drs. Lee Miller, Russell Dumire, Aurelio Rodriguez and Timothy O’Donnell – have been generous contributors to the event.

Many people, organizations and businesses also have donated money to support the event, she said.

She said many of her girlfriends at work and outside of work have been helping to organize the event along with Susan Mann of the Conemaugh Health Foundation, and Joe and Somer Shetler of Conemaugh’s Wellness Center and their team of volunteers who help with the Conemaugh Que Classic fundraiser each September.

So far, 300 people have registered for the event with another 100 to 200 expected by race day, she said.

The goal is to raise $15,000, she said, adding that she plans to hold the event every year.

For her efforts, Rosa, a Tire Hill resident, is the Person of the Week.

Susan Mann of the Conemaugh Health Foundation said Rosa has been an inspiration to anyone fighting cancer or any other illness.

“In the midst of her own battle with colon cancer, she’s thinking about how to help others in the future,” Mann said.

“This event will not only

raise much needed funds for the needs of our cancer patients, such as meals for those receiving chemotherapy or help with transportation to and from their treatments, but it will also raise awareness about colon cancer, which includes the importance of early detection through screenings, symptoms to watch for, and the importance of diet and exercise to help prevent this disease.”

Mann said there are many people supporting Rosa’s efforts.

“It is truly a community effort led by an extraordinary woman,” Mann said. “It’s going to be a great event.”

 To register for the race or

to learn more about it, call

269-2257 or visit

Rosa and her husband have two sons and one granddaughter.

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