Cancer survivor gives out gifts, hope to others

admin | 2/8/2012, 7:30 a.m.

Lisa Coleman knits, crochets items that she hands out at local hospitals to those diagnosed with cancer

The knitted and crocheted hats that Lisa Coleman makes to give away to local hospital patients comes with strings attached.With nearly every item she gives away, the present also comes with her personal advice. Im able to speak to cancer patients as Im giving them the hats to encourage them, she explained. I tell them the healing process starts in your mind first. The 46-year-old Coleman is passing on advice the she relied upon herself. The mother of three was diagnosed with leukemia 20 years ago.Her fight was compounded with the struggle that her family underwent in order to raise the necessary funds for the treatment. Eventually, with the colossal efforts of her mother, enough money was found.While Coleman cites many blessings that helped her fight and overcome her cancer battle, one of the biggest was due to the fact that her sister, 45-year-old Patrisa Yvette Coleman, was a perfect blood donor match for her.According to the Institute for Justice, only 30 percent of people who need bone marrow transplants find matches within their own family.For Patrisa, the decision to donate didnt require any deliberation. I thought that I was going to lose my sister, so I didnt care about what happened to me physically. I just wanted to save my sister because she wouldnt have survived if I hadnt done it, she recalled.Yet even with the fiscal, moral and emotional support of her family and loved ones, Coleman believed that she ultimately overcame her ordeal with two other essential elements. All of the medicine wont do any good, if you dont have a fighting will power and faith, she said. For the single mother, it was the thought of seeing her sons reach adulthood that propelled her through many days.Now she tries to pass along this faith and passion for living to those who receive her caps.Her newfound passion came to her last year after she had seen examples of the craft on YouTube. I thought thats what I can do, she recalled. I can knit nice stylish hats using germ-free organic yarn for kids, women and men. Roughly twice a month, Coleman, who works full time as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and is a part-time student at Broward College, visits local hospitals to deliver her crafts and wisdom.Patrisa praised her sisters efforts. I think its great because it gives [the patients] hope when they see her giving out hats, she said. Theyll think, if the person who gave me this survived, then Im going to survive this too. By Kaila Heard kheard@miamitimesonline.com