Woman overcomes numerous obstacles to compete in All-American Quarter Horse Congress

Lisa Campbell and "Shine" (WBNS/10TV)

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Lisa Campbell lost her mother to cancer, her husband died by suicide, and then just a few months later she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.

In spite of all the adversity, she still managed to work toward achieving her dream.

Horses are a big part of Lisa's life. She grew up around them.

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"I've been showing horses since I was about seven or eight years old," she recalls.

She also shows them every year at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress in central Ohio. But this year's competition was different for Lisa.

"It's been one thing after another," she says. "But it's gotta go up from here, right? It can't get worse."

In April of this year, Lisa's husband Lonnie died by suicide. To deal with her grief, Lisa concentrated on training for this year's congress.

Unfortunately, her husband's death was only part of Lisa's difficult journey. Just a few months after his death, Lisa received some devastating news.

"I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer on August 20, and the entries for this show had to be in on August 25," she remembers. "So I knew that I had cancer and I knew that I was going to have a mastectomy. I just didn't know when."

Lisa and her family are no strangers to cancer. Her mother, who also showed horses, died of colon cancer. "I had an amazing model in my mom," Lisa remembers as she pets her horse, called "Shine."

"This was her horse. In 2015, she showed with this horse, and it was the very last time she drove or showed at all. She lost her battle to cancer that following February."

Lisa's mother, Sue, did not let cancer stop her from showing one last time.

"She did it, and did it proudly and confidently," Lisa said.

"So I knew I could, too."

Lisa entered to compete and was scheduled for surgery on September 19. She thought her hopes of showing at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress were over.

But during a pre-op appointment, doctors found a mass in her lungs. They were afraid the cancer had metastasized, but it turned out to be an infection.

"I do have a lung infection, that I'm on medication for right now. But my mastectomy was rescheduled for October 22."

That October 22 date meant that Lisa was scheduled to have surgery less than a week after showing at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress.

"I had a lot of goals coming into this year," she recalls, "and those kind of got shot out of the water with some personal challenges. But my goal this year was to come here and place in the top ten." On Wednesday, October 16, she did just that. Lisa and Shine placed sixth in their class. "She looked so good, and I was so proud of her," says Lisa's daughter, Christina Mulford. "I just think it makes a big difference, to have people there for you and cheering you on."

The family came together to support Lisa the same way they supported her mother. "When my mom was alive," she says, "it was 'Blue for Sue' because blue was the color for colon cancer."

Now, Lisa's family wears pink.

"I watched it in my mother," Lisa says. "Just her determination and how positive she was, and how she didn't... she didn't let cancer define her, or let it stop her from doing anything, or chasing her dreams, or doing anything that she wanted to do. So, I think that just to be positive and, you know, not to give up or put off things that you really want to do and want to accomplish. And sometimes, it's not about the winning, it's about being able to participate and do the things that you want to do and meet your own personal goals."

Less than a week before her surgery, Lisa Campbell did just that.