By: Jen Russon
A name synonymous with breast cancer awareness and the annual 5k race for women’s wellness has lost her own battle with the disease.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, Lisa Boccard, who had battled Stage 3 breast cancer, and more recently a metastatic form of the disease succumbed to her illness, surrounded by those closest to her.
Lisa, 57, spent most of her adult life facing down breast cancer. Diagnosed before her 30th birthday, she underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy, stem cell replacement, and radiation. There were long periods of remission, wherein Lisa, who wore her brunette hair short, big frame glasses and an infectious smile, worked tirelessly to make sure as many women as possible were screened for cancer.
She had, as they say, walked the walk on advocacy since completing her first round of treatment and beating cancer at age 29, fighting for all women, regardless of their financial status, to also have a chance at advanced therapies and remission.
In 2003, her brother Vincent and his wife Terry Boccard created The Lisa Boccard Breast Cancer Fund in support of her and her fight with breast cancer. The foundation has since partnered with Broward Health of Coral Springs to become a life-saving resource for thousands of cancer patients – not just in Coral Springs, but in Davie, Sunrise, Plantation and Fort Lauderdale.
The Lisa Boccard Breast Cancer Fund has screened over 2,000 people, detecting cancer in 100 women. In that time, it has also provided over 1,000 mammograms and follow-up treatment for those identified with breast cancer.
In 2006, along with the Coral Springs Medical Center, the nonprofit run grew into the Race for Women’s Wellness. Each spring, runners are known to sport outlandish pink outfits, drawing sponsorship from across the United States and abroad – last April being no exception.
Lisa would always arrive at sun-up to help runners prep and stayed until the last one crossed the finish line. Photographers captured her giving out water bottles, high fives and, most of all, encouragement to the runners and walkers in the race.
When her cancer returned early this year, her philanthropy didn’t waver. Her breast cancer fund teamed up with the F45 Training Center in Coral Springs to raise over $50,000 for the annual half marathon and 5k.
When recipients of Lisa’s funding approached her to thank her tearfully, she would say, “I always tell women when they thank me, it’s because of our wonderful village and a community effort, and it’s not just me alone.”
A graduate of Notre Dame Academy High School in Miami, Lisa’s breast cancer advocacy work started in the fall of 1992 and remained active until the time of her death. She was part of the American Cancer Society, co-founded the Florida Breast Coalition and joined the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC). In 1997, she represented the Sunshine State with the NBCC at the White House, presenting President Clinton with over two million signatures, which demanded more funding for breast cancer research.
In addition to her fundraising, Lisa also cared for her 96-year-old mother, Jean, in the home they shared. She is survived by Jean, nieces, nephew and two brothers, one being Vince, a former commissioner and mayor of Coral Springs.
“Lisa was not only my little sister she was my best friend..always there for me,” said her brother Vince. “We were very close. Lisa was truly a beacon of hope for so many. She was a warrior to the cause and an inspiration to all that met her. Always giving of herself and asking nothing in return. Lisa passed on National Breast Cancer Survivor Day after a battle of over 28 years fighting breast cancer and still living her life to the fullest.”
In honor of Lisa, Broward Health Coral Springs will be lit pink throughout the month of June starting Wednesday, June 5. As a tribute to her, the hospital’s Women Center will unveil a tribute in her memory later in June to showcase her advocacy for breast cancer and her drive to protect other women from the same challenges she faced.
Her wake and funeral are open to the public. The wake will be held at Kraeer Funeral Home in Coral Springs from 4-8 p.m. on Thursday, June 6. The funeral service will be held Friday, June 7, at St. Andrews Catholic Church in Coral Springs at noon.
The family requests guests to dress in pink in honor of Lisa. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Lisa Boccard Breast Cancer Fund at donate.browardhealthfoundation.org.
Correction: We originally reported her age was 56, however, we were incorrect. Lisa turned 57.
- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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