If you were in Philly in 1978, you, like most of us, couldn’t help but take notice of Lisa Thomas, the new reporter / anchor at WPVI, Channel 6 news. Young; only 24 years old, the beautiful and very professional reporter made an immediate impact on the Philadelphia audience in general and the African American audience in particular. Ebony magazine featured her as the youngest news anchor in Philly. Something about her made us feel immediate empathy, we “adopted” her, like a kid sister, niece or cousin who had made good.
When she moved up in 1983, to co-anchor the 5 o’clock news, we celebrated her and the ratings reflected it. We watched and celebrated her marriage to Dr. William Laury; her becoming a mother, and her ascension to the rank of one of the top local news anchors in the country; one of the first African American women to achieve that distinction. Demonstrating her skills, Lisa Thomas Laury was seen interviewing and reporting on some of the top newsmakers of the day; President Reagan, Princess Diana, Oprah Winfrey, Senator Ted Kennedy and others. Along the way, she became a symbol of all our aspirations and a role model to countless young African American teens and children. But all was not well.
In 2001, Lisa began experiencing baffling weakness, pains and numbness in her feet and ankles. After seeing a number of doctors and receiving varying diagnoses, Lisa Thomas Laury finally learned that she had POEMS Syndrome, a precancerous condition rooted in a plasma cell disorder. This condition can shorten the life expectancy of those who have it. Her life was about to change forever.
Lisa’s book, ”On Camera and Off – When the News is Good and When It’s Not” tells the story of her journey. Trouble can strike anyone at any time, and adversity often brings out our best. Lisa quotes Alice Walker, author of “The Color Purple,” saying “There are all these terrible things that can actually happen to us, and yet life is so incredibly magical and abundant and present that we can still be very happy. Takes a lot of work, but you can still be happy.” Following that credo, Lisa Thomas Laury tells her story plainly, but with feeling. Her ultimate triumph can be an example for us all. Lisa Thomas Laury’s “On Camera and Off” will teach, awaken and inspire all who read it. I recommend it for whatever you may be wrestling to overcome.
By Jerry Wells