Not all heroes wear capes – in fact some of them wear nurses’ uniforms.
And that’s what Billingham mum Lisa Tomlinson feels comfortable in as she goes about her daily job caring for patients as a nursing associate at North Tees Hospital in Stockton.
But beneath her scrubs lies an inspirational spirit that just will not be quashed and her drive to give as much back to help others as she can has earned Lisa a Teesside Hero Award from Teesside Philanthropic Foundation.
Lisa, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2006 at the age of just 31, has single-handedly raised thousands of pounds for a whole host of Teesside charities since being given just a 50/50 chance of survival all those years ago.
She has also spent the past decade fiercely lobbying parliament to reduce the age for women to be able to access cervical screening programmes, with her latest petition receiving more than 100,000 signatures.
More than that, though, says her fiancé Colin Cowie, she has a zest for life and an ambition to live it to the full after going through gruelling treatment to beat cancer not once, but twice.
She’s now studying for a nursing degree and is set to achieve her ambition and graduate in 2020 – when she and Colin will also tie the knot.
Lisa was presented with her award by Dave Nicholson of Philanthropic Foundation patrons, the Nicholson Group, in front of the Accident and Emergency Department at North Tees Hospital, where she is currently working on placement.
“I don’t feel as if I am worthy of the title,” said Lisa. “There are so many people who do so many amazing things out there on Teesside, I’m just a little person getting on with my life.
“I didn’t know anything about it at all – but it seems all the staff in A&E knew before I did too!”
It was Colin who nominated Lisa for the award. “She always said she would pay the people back who helped her and she continues to fundraise every week for all kinds of charities,” he said.
Her cancer came back in 2015, this time in her appendix, but the tumour was removed and she was back at work two weeks later. A scare two years ago saw part of her liver removed, but thankfully tests proved a growth was benign.
“I have never known somebody as energetic and as positive as Lisa and when her friends described her as an inspiration, I couldn’t agree more,” said Colin.
“Lisa has adopted my daughter Freya, who has Down’s Syndrome, as her own and it’s so lovely to see Freya grow and turn into the young lady Lisa has helped her to become. Freya has a mummy in her life and Lisa has the daughter she’s always dreamed of.
“Lisa’s motto, Llive for today’, rings in my head and everyone else’s when we see how far she has come these last 10 years. Lisa still fundraises every week and often raises funds towards patient care in her hospital.
“She always thinks of others, never herself. Her energy, enthusiasm and passion for life is phenomenal and we couldn’t imagine life without her.”
The Teesside Hero Award comes with a £1,000 grant which Teesside Philanthropic Foundation will send to a charity of Lisa’s choice.
She has opted to give it to the Teesside Family Foundation which supports people across the area with all kinds of valuable initiatives.
- Pictured above: Cancer survivor, campaigner, charity fundraiser and associate nurse Lisa Tomlinson received her Teesside Hero Award from Philanthropic Foundation patron Dave Nicholson.