Among the crowd of participants in last October’s FILA City Challenge 5k/10k Run benefiting the Hirshberg Foundation were people, and a pooch, wearing t-shirts with the bold purple logo “Team MQ.” This eager group was present to support runner Monique Lewis, a pancreatic cancer survivor who was diagnosed in December 1996. After doctors discovered a tumor in the head of her pancreas, they gave her from three to six months to live.
Team MQ was the brainchild of Monique’s husband, Austin. When the couple, who live in the San Francisco area, decided to participate in the FILA City Challenge last October in Los Angeles, Austin contacted a number of friends and family. According to Monique, “He asked them to send a card of encouragement to me for race day. People then asked if they could give money. He said yes and the money started coming in.”
Monique says she didn’t know anything about Team MQ until she arrived in L.A. for the race. Monique explains, “Austin had t-shirts and hats made up for my family and friends. He presented me with the cards, money, t-shirts and hats the day before the race. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed by it all.” Team MQ raised almost $4,000 for the Hirshberg Foundation, all of which will benefit pancreatic cancer research at UCLA. In addition, Monique won the FILA City Challenge Grand Prize, two roundtrip tricks on Southwest Airlines, for turning in the most pledge money.
Monique claims she is “doing well” despite the fact that she has “tons of cancer.” Lewis focuses on staying healthy while on chemotherapy and while participating in an experimental drug trial. “I try and eat right, exercise and eat chocolate, daily. I know how lucky I am to have lasted this long. I’ve had so many bad scans where doctors tell me it’s all over that I’ve stopped asking what the doctors think. I just live day to day.” Runners can expect to see more purple t-shirts this October 8th at the 2000 FILA City Challenge. Monique remains positive, saying, “We plan to be there next year too.”