Cancer patient Julia Lyons standing in the sunshine in a garden smiling

A lasting legacy

After being diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2015, Julia Lyons wanted to give back to Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute. In her will, she designated that a contribution be made to Spartanburg Regional Foundation.

Since being diagnosed, Julia Lyons has been spending a lot of time at Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute. The connection she feels to the Gibbs staff and to her adoptive home in the Spartanburg community inspired Lyons to question how she might give back to help future patients. Her answer: To designate in her will that a contribution be made to the Spartanburg Regional Foundation. With this decision, she has become a member of the Foundation’s Legacy Society. And her gift, she said, will support research efforts at Gibbs.

“I think research is so important,” Lyons said. “I hope people can benefit from this gift. I hope we can come up with some answers.”

A history of volunteerism

Lyons has long been passionate about activism and community service. In the mid-1990s, she jumped into volunteer work soon after moving to South Carolina from New Jersey with her late husband, Bernard E. Brooks. She became a volunteer board member for local nonprofits and went on to serve as director of the senior volunteer program for the United Way of the Piedmont.

She has been a supporter of the Spartanburg Regional Foundation for years. Since 2013, prior to her cancer diagnosis, Lyons has served on the Board of Trustees for the Spartanburg Regional Foundation. She is now part of the committee that oversees and supports the Foundation’s grants program.

“I have really enjoyed being on the grants committee and having the chance to help the Foundation in its efforts to support organizations that make our community healthier and stronger,” she said.

Looking forward

Lyons’ experience with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer that affects white blood cells, has not been an easy one. But she says caregivers at Gibbs have provided a sense of compassion and hope.

“They are always uplifting,” she says. “They are warm and understanding and patient. It’s like family.”

With their care and support, she’s feeling well, despite ongoing chemotherapy. She describes her condition as “incurable, but treatable.” She has been getting positive reports from her doctors and has an optimistic view of her treatment. 

Lyons knows there are no guarantees when it comes to cancer treatment and research. But her planned legacy gift is, for her, an opportunity “to step up to the plate.” She wants to help open new doors, to discover new possibilities, here where she’s put her roots.

“I decided long ago that Spartanburg is home to me,” Lyons said.

And through volunteerism and gifts, she’s making important contributions to make it even better for everyone in the future.