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Friends embrace Speer as she fights cancer

As it does for many women, Lisa Speer's battle with breast cancer started with a lump that she knew hadn't been there before.

In the weeks since, she has learned much about the disease, about her disease in particular and about her options. Speer, who is single, has also found herself surrounded with networks of friends, including fellow members of the River Falls High School Class of 1980, Northwest Airlines flight attendants, co-workers from St. Croix County's 911 call center and, in some cases, near strangers.

Speer, the daughter of Ken Speer and Julie Speer, grew up in rural River Falls in a house on the St. Croix River. Her dad was a pilot, and her mom was a flight attendant.

From the time she was a little girl, she wanted to be a flight attendant. After high school, she enrolled at UW-Stout. When she turned 21 she applied with Northwest and was hired in 1984.

When Northwest, dealing with financial problems, cut workers' pay, Speer applied and was hired to work part-time in St. Croix's Emergency Communications Center.

December was particularly hectic for Speer who was trying to get in 100 hours of flight time, work at the dispatch center, help care for her father who was ill and "maybe enjoy some of the holidays."

While dressing one day, she had to adjust her bra a little for comfort and touched a lump.

Her first thought was, "I'm too busy. That wasn't there before, but I'm too busy."

She tried to convince herself what she was feeling was just a buildup of fluid or a benign cyst.

"In my mind that was what I was hoping it was, but honestly I knew it wasn't," she says now. The eventual diagnosis was Stage 2A Grade 3 invasive breast cancer.

A fundraiser for Speer will be held beginning at 5 p.m. Monday, March 2, at Ready Randy's Banquet Hall, 1490 131st St., New Richmond.

Dinner will be served from 5-7 p.m. with a silent auction running throughout the evening.

People who want to volunteer at the benefit or who have questions may e-mail Melanie Viney at or Mary Marcel at

For more, read article in the Feb. 25 print edition of the River Falls Journal.