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Stick it to Cancer

When the question arose as to whether she wanted to benefit others through a joyous occasion in her life, bride-to-be Lisa Johnson’s response was brief and immediate, “I do.”

The cancer survivor and Town of Tonawanda resident is celebrating her 10-year anniversary of being cancer-free and her upcoming nuptials by replacing her traditional bridal shower with a fundraiser for Roswell Park Cancer Institute. She also hopes the event will raise awareness about lymphedema, a chronic swelling that sometimes develops after cancer treatments.

Johnson, along with family and friends, will hold the fourth Stick it to Cancer Blood Drive and Basket Raffle from 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 28, at the Town of Tonawanda Boys & Girls Club, 54 Riverdale Ave.

It wasn’t long after her now-fiance, Patrick McPartland, dropped to one knee on St. Patrick’s Day 2013 – in the middle of Niagara Square during the annual parade in Buffalo – when Johnson realized that the summer of 2014 was becoming overbooked.

“We had already set the date for Stick it to Cancer before the proposal, and with an August 2014 wedding, I felt I was asking too much of my family and friends,” Johnson said. “I thought about how wonderful it would be to give to the community instead of amassing gifts and decided to replace the shower with the fundraiser.”

Stick it to Cancer began in 2009 to mark Johnson’s successful fight against cervical cancer in 2004. The third event in 2012 featured Johnson taking her first bike-riding lesson at age 36 so she could participate in the Ride for Roswell. She credits the cancer research facility with properly diagnosing and treating secondary lymphedema in her left leg, which she developed in 2008 as a result of a hysterectomy to cure her cancer. The couple also chose Roswell Park as a recipient because of the facility’s care and compassion as McPartland’s mother battled cancer.

In addition to Roswell Park, proceeds will benefit the 2014 Walk for Lymphedema and Lymphatic Diseases in New York City, for which Johnson and McPartland will form a team. Sponsored by the Lymphatic Education and Research Network, the walk raises awareness as well as funding for research. Even if the couple can’t make it to the Big Apple to participate in the event, funds raised during a “virtual walk” will go toward the cause.

“With the CDC reporting that 12.7 million people around the world are diagnosed with cancer annually, it’s hard to believe that so little is known about this destructive aftermath of treatment,” Johnson said. “We want to raise awareness so those seeking treatment for cancer know that lymphedema is a very possible side-effect that not only causes quality-of-life issues but also can lead to infections and other problems if not properly diagnosed and treated.”

Stick it to Cancer once again will include family-friendly entertainment, basket raffles and other prizes. Admission will be $10 per person, which includes baked goods, non-alcoholic beverages and a card of basket raffle tickets. Children 10 and younger will be admitted free. Additional basket raffle tickets will be $5 per card or five cards for $20. Pizza will be sold, and a 50/50 split also will be available.

A large-item raffle also will be held, with main prizes already including a pair of tickets to Lady Gaga’s concert in July at the First Niagara Center, a Kindle Fire HD with GoGo Pillow and a Keurig coffee maker.

The American Red Cross will also hold a blood drive from 2 to 7 p.m. Those only donating blood will be able to do so without paying admission, and presenting donors will receive a coupon for free admission into the fundraiser.

For more information, to make an appointment for the blood drive or to make a donation, email Johnson at or visit


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