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Liz still trying to be Liz

Former Newport Harbor volleyball player has had positive outlook after being diagnosed with brain cancer last month.

May 04, 2011|By Steve Virgen, steve.virgen@latimes.com
(Courtesy of Liz…)

Throughout Liz Lord's life, the values learned while playing sports in Newport Beach have been used many times. Now, as she fights in the biggest battle of her life, she clings to those values.

Lord was known for being competitive when she played volleyball for Newport Harbor High before graduating in 2002 with a full-ride scholarship to the University of Portland. Not much has changed. She still wants to win.

When she was diagnosed with brain cancer and was told that the tumor found was inoperable and incurable, Lord didn't back down. She said she would beat the disease.

For people who hear about this and know the 27-year-old, they say, "That's Liz."

"The only thing she was upset about was that she couldn't go back to work," said Meg Lord, Liz's younger sister who is 25.

The doctors leveled with Liz, telling her the average life expectancy for her type of brain cancer is 12-14 months. Reality set in for Liz, but that didn't mean she has stopped fighting. Her speech has slowed and her body has changed, but Liz won't stop battling.

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As she deals with the disease in Portland, she's encouraged by the support of her family, co-workers and the Newport Beach-Costa Mesa community.

Liz's friends have set up a Facebook page (Liz Lord Fundraiser I Orange County Chapter) for those who want to help with the medical bills and other costs.

At Friday's Battle of the Bay at Corona del Mar High, more fundraising will take place.

When Liz heard about the boys' volleyball match that pits Back Bay rivals Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar, she was grateful that people were also making it a fundraising event for her. She also expressed excitement for the match.

"Go Newport," she said during a telephone interview Friday.

She spoke briefly on the phone, which was on the speaker setting. With the help of her boyfriend, Casey Sobolewski, she answered questions.

"What do sports mean to you?" she was asked.

"Everything," said Liz, who also played soccer and softball. "Sports kept me out of trouble. It taught me about team spirit and to stay strong as a team. It taught me time management. Perseverance. Those are all things I still use. I love it. It taught me more in life than I could ever imagine."

Liz has been drawing strength from her competitive fire throughout the past three months. She was diagnosed with brain cancer April 1.

"We thought, 'Wow, this is a horrible April Fools joke,'" Meg said.

But at least there was a diagnosis, and that was somehow a positive thought.

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