Paying it forward

Paying it forward

Lisa Selby is not a hero. She will be the first to say it as she battles cancer.

Selby says the nurses at Advocate Sherman Hospital’s Cancer Care Center are the true heroes. They are what makes this hospital what it is in her eyes; without them, it is just a building with four walls.

Initially, Selby was experiencing knee issues, and during her orthopedic appointment, her physician was concerned that some of her other symptoms were related to her colon. He suggested she get a colonoscopy, since she had not had one in 10 years. It was after her colonoscopy that she was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in February 2017.

After a challenging June surgery and some difficulties, including renal failure, Selby was in the hospital for six months and was discharged at the beginning of December. But thanks to family, friends and her tough nature, she pulled through and began her chemotherapy this year.

“I had been getting my chemotherapy elsewhere, but my friends told me how great Sherman was, and it is literally only one mile away from my home,” shares Selby. “I am legally blind and cannot drive, so transportation logistics are difficult. Though now knowing the nurses, I would have gone to Downtown Chicago to be cared by them!”

The nurses made an instant impression on Selby. “They got to know me personally,” says Selby. “This was more than a job for them; they really cared about me as a person.”

“Lisa just cracks us up here on the chemotherapy unit,” mentions Crystal Michaels, an Advocate nurse at Advocate Sherman Hospital’s Cancer Care Center. “Nothing gets her down enough that she can’t joke about it!”

Rachel Faustner, Sherman’s financial patient navigator, checked in with her regularly, asking if she needed help financially. Luckily, Selby did not need financial aid, but Faustner shared with her that some patients do not have the insurance or funds to pay for treatment or medication. On one of Selby’s appointment days, Faustner mentioned how there was a patient whose insurance had declined treatment because they would only cover one treatment, even though the first one failed.

“I was appalled and could not sleep once I heard this,” confided Selby. “So the next time I came in for my appointment, I gave Rachel a check for $1,000 to help that patient who had been denied by her insurance.”

But then Rachel said she had an idea and to hold onto the money. The next time Selby visited, she was presented with the idea of creating a fund through the Advocate Charitable Foundation to help more patients in need. Selby loved the idea.

“I currently give to St. Jude’s and Habitat for Humanity, and I like how they have low administrative fees and empower those they help,” Selby comments. “I did not want this foundation to have my name on it. But I did want to be completely transparent to potential donors and patients that it goes straight back to patients with cancer who are in need.”

When thinking of the name for the fund, Rachel reminded her that Selby is always talking about “Paying It Forward”, and it is one of Selby’s top five favorite movies. As a result, the “Pay It Forward” fund at Advocate Sherman Hospital was created.

“I was blessed by good luck and work,” shares Selby. “I do not need financial assistance, but I know that going through cancer is financially difficult.”

Rachel Faustner gives her insight about this fund – “I think what Lisa is doing is amazing! The fact that it is a patient helping other patients within our community is inspiring and truly shows the impact of our cancer care center and the heart of a lot of our patients.”

“It does not make me a great person by giving,” Selby remarks. “Just smart and appreciative for the way the team has always pulled for me.”

Selby easily tells others about the “Paying it Forward” fund. A family member just donated $5,000, and when Selby recently shared the news with her pedicurist, she and her boyfriend decided to support the fund and donate free manicures and pedicures for patients!

“I am basically the ringmaster and like to talk,” shares Selby. “Writing a check is the easy part; the nurses and Rachel are doing the real work. Without them, there is no place for patients to get help and heal.”

To give towards the Paying It Forward Fund to benefit those cancer patients in need of financial assistance through Advocate Sherman’s Cancer Care Center, contact Jose Macias with the Advocate Charitable Foundation by calling (224)783-3021 or email

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One Comment

  1. What a wonderful program! In my mind, Lisa is a hero.

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About the Author

Jennifer Benson
Jennifer Benson

Jennifer Benson, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs for Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has 10+ years of community development and communication experience for non-profits and has a BA in Architecture from Judson University in Elgin, IL. Outside of work, you can find her planning the next adventure near water or rocks, re-organizing spaces, working on her Master’s in Public Health, caring for her senior citizen cat, keeping to healthy moving and eating disciplines and growing green things wherever she can find room.