Former Meramec instructor, Lisa Whitney, dies from ovarian cancer.
By: Rachel Zink
The Stanford University’s Center of Teaching and Learning describes a teacher as someone who is seen by students as approachable and a valuable source of advice even on matters not directly related to the course. Lisa Whitney, a Meramec physical education (P.E.) instructor for several years, had more life lessons to give to her students than P.E. Whitney was battling ovarian cancer for the second time and continued to teach.
Whitney fought for her life and through her battles came fatigue and extreme discomfort. On Feb. 3, Whitney died from ovarian cancer, and she suffered no more. She was 51.
“She saw the best in everyone,” Kevin Kelly said, a long-time friend and coworker. “She really touched the students she came into contact with. She really wanted her students to succeed.”
Whitney worked as a fitness instructor and also taught Dance Aerobics. With Meramec being a community college, Whitney had students of all ages. According to Kelly, Whitney became more than a teacher. She became a friend to her students and had a warm heart toward all of them.
“There was an older couple [Whitney taught] and the woman had lost her eyesight,” Kelly said. “Lisa went and cleaned the couple’s house because she wanted to. No pay or anything.”
The same couple that Whitney assisted in their home attended her memorial service at South Gate Church on Feb. 9, to show their respect and gratitude toward their former friend and teacher.
“The stories [were] unbelievable,” Kelly said. “The way people got up and spoke about how Lisa had touched their lives; her love for others came through.”
A women’s risk of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in her lifetime is 1-in-71, according to the American Cancer Society (A.C.S.) and ovarian cancer is the ninth most common cancer among women.
In October 2012, A.C.S. estimated that 22,280 women in the United States would receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer for the entire year. They also estimated that 15,500 women previously diagnosed with ovarian cancer would die from it in 2012.
Whitney’s memorial service program read, “She saw the good in everyone, was easy to love and loved others so very well.”
Whitney’s love of teaching shined through until the very end. It was a job she truely cherished, according to Kelly.
In a hallway in the Meramec P.E. building a picture of Whitney hangs on the wall. Her face is smiling and glowing just as Kelly remembers.
“She started the semester [in Fall 2012] but was unable to finish,” Kelly said. “I’m a better person from having worked with Lisa. Just from being around her, seeing the way she lived. She accomplished so much.”