Bermudian survivor fêted as a global hero

  • Super woman: Ronda Lewis, left, a two-time cancer survivor, is shown at the launch of the Relay For Life launch at City Hall (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Humbled and honoured: Ronda Lewis, two time cancer survivor, been picked as the ambassador for the annual Relay for Life fundraiser for the Bermuda Cancer & Health Centre (Photograph by Renae Stampp)

Two-times cancer survivor Ronda Lewis is this year’s Global Hero of Hope for Bermuda.

Ms Lewis, 48, who survived bouts of breast cancer ten years ago and a year ago, was one of 30 people chosen from countries around the world by the American Cancer Society.

She said: “I’m just so humbled, but also honoured and excited to have been chosen.”

Now she has also been picked as the ambassador for the annual Relay for Life fundraiser for the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre.

Ms Lewis said it was important for people to remain positive in the fight against cancer.

She added: “Take one day at a time, be positive that you can get through this and you can survive and live a happy, healthy life.”

She said it was also important to have the support of family and friends.

The Global Hero of Hope award is given to people who have beaten cancer and are an inspiration to others fighting the disease.

Ms Lewis admitted having cancer diagnosed twice was tough.

She said she started to have mammograms done early because she had lost her mother and a grandmother to cancer.

Ms Lewis added: “The first time, it was a shock because I hadn’t even felt the lump. It was the mammogram that I had found it at Bermuda Cancer and Health [Centre].”

She said: “I was upset. I cried. Then I said ‘OK what are we going to do?’.”

Ms Lewis underwent a gruelling series of surgery and treatment, and became a campaigner for genetic testing to predict risk of cancer.

She also got involved in cancer fundraisers and working with other people suffering from the disease.

Ms Lewis said she was a team captain in the first three years of the Relay for Life.

She added she was unable to compete in the fourth year because of her second attack of cancer.

Ms Lewis said: “The second time was even more emotionally difficult. It was hard physically but emotionally as well because I felt that I had already fought it once.”

Ms Lewis said she had a lumpectomy, 16 rounds of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiotherapy.

But she added that — unlike her first bout with the disease — she was able to get most of her treatment at the Bermuda Cancer & Health Centre rather than overseas.

Ms Lewis said she loved this year’s relay theme of “What is your superpower” because it highlighted the importance of support.

She added: “My daughter was amazing as a caregiver.”

She added: “I think it is important for caregivers or support people to know the little things that they do mean a lot to us that are going through this, even if it is just taking us to our appointments or sitting with us at chemotherapy.”

Ms Lewis, of Sandys and a client service co-ordinator for global insurance giant AIG, said she wanted people to come out for the Relay for Life to help support people with cancer and those that care for them.

She added: “I think it is going to be a fun event. I just really hope we get a really good turnout this year.

“It’s amazing to know that everyone comes out and we all celebrate life and we remember those who have passed on.”

Ms Lewis is Bermuda’s second Global Hero of Hope representative. Giovanna Watson won the award last year.

The Relay for Life will take place on May 17 and 18 at the National Sports Centre.