Tennis champion Serena Williams has announced her support for her close friend Esther Lee after the physical therapist was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Williams posted a video on Twitter on Oct. 22 to raise awareness for the LA Cancer challenge held on Oct. 31.
Lee traveled with Venus and Serena Williams for six years as they dominated tennis as World and Olympic champions.
The sisters and the 43-year-old Lee became very close, and Serena was moved to tears on the video seeking support for her friend and the LA Cancer Challenge on Oct. 31.
Williams asked others to help her support Team Esther for the 5K marathon.
“My friend Esther is in treatment for pancreatic cancer. I’ve joined Team Esther for the LA Cancer Challenge 5K on on October 31st to raise awareness and do my part to help find a cure. Register and make a donation today!”
My friend Esther is in treatment for pancreatic cancer. I've joined Team Esther for the LA Cancer Challenge 5K on on October 31st to raise awareness and do my part to help find a cure. Register and make a donation today! https://t.co/Egqv0UdHKO pic.twitter.com/491clTcVO9
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) October 22, 2021
Lee told KABC that doctors found a 14-centimeter cancerous tumor on her pancreas. The tumor had been there for years and had metastasized to her liver, spine and lymph nodes. She is now in Stage 4.
The physical therapist said that she had been feeling fatigued before her diagnosis and had a hard time breathing while running. She was active and competed in triathlons, so she considered herself a healthy person. Noticing a protrusion in her abdomen prompted her to see a physician in early 2020. The Hirshberg Foundation helped Lee to get through her treatments and multiple surgeries.
“People always saw me as really healthy. I think that’s so strange that I was this very unhealthy, healthy person,” said Lee. “Even though I have this diagnosis and it comes with some challenges that are just a part of my life now, it’s OK to have your bumps in the road. You just got to keep carrying on.”
One in 64 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in a lifetime, and 60,000 people are diagnosed with the disease every year.
We are praying for you, Dr. Lee!