University embraces “Lovell Strong”

The+phrase+%23LovellStrong+gains+momentum+on+Marquettes+campus.+

Photo by Collin Nawrocki

The phrase #LovellStrong gains momentum on Marquette’s campus.

University President Michael Lovell posted a photo on Instagram embracing his hair loss by showing off a mohawk with his daughter.

“Publicly, I praise the mohawk: If you have it, show it. Secretly, I seethe with bitter resentment that I cannot have a mohawk because I don’t have enough hair,” Ryan Duns, assistant professor of theology, said in an email.

Despite being diagnosed with sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, University President Michael Lovell has been active around the Marquette University campus where the phrase “Lovell strong”, created by his daughter Anna Lovell, has gained momentum.

Lovell visited Duns’ Foundations in Theology class Sept. 8 to say hello to the students while thanking them for their support and to give Duns a “Prayers Up #LovellStrong” bracelet.

“#LovellStrong is an invitation. It is, first, an invitation to rethink what is most important in our lives. Dr. Lovell and I share a love for our Catholic faith and for our community at Marquette, so this is an invitation to come together as a community — a faith and school community — to support and encourage our President,” Duns said in an email.

There are two types of sarcoma cancer — bone and soft tissue sarcomas. They can be further classified depending on what is found within the tumor. Soft tissue sarcomas are seen more frequently and contain approximately 50 different subtypes. Bone sarcomas, or bone cancer has fewer subtypes.

Treatment options for sarcoma vary depending on different factors involved, such as which type, stage, grade, potential side effects, patient preference and their overall health; however, treatment typically includes either chemotherapy, radiation therapy and/or surgery.

Lovell announced that he would begin chemotherapy treatment the following week after his address to the university.

Duns said he was happy that Lovell felt comfortable enough to visit his classroom, and has noticed Lovell around campus more frequently now that the university has returned to an in-person learning experience.

Kurt Gering’s, instructor of practice, Introduction to Information Systems class decided to surprise Lovell’s running group to present him with a “Marquette cap” to prevent him from getting sunburnt on his runs after his students noticed his mohawk post.

“I first met Mike Lovell eight years ago, and since then he has become one of my closest friends,” Gering said in an email.

Gering said that a Marquette ’21 graduate who is also undergoing chemotherapy, got the cap and drove up from Chicago to help give it to Lovell.

Gering said that over the years Lovell has presented to his project management class every semester. Gering said once Lovell’s visit was scheduled on his birthday, so one student baked him a birthday cake and the class sang to him.

“I have never met an individual with more grit and determination than Mike Lovell. And when you add in all the prayers from the community, as well as the support and joy he has received from faculty, staff and students, it becomes an unstoppable force, he will beat cancer,” Gering said in an email.

Gering said when Lovell informed him of his diagnosis he was shocked. He said the two of them have spent more time cycling together than ever in the past three months.

“On the morning of his first chemotherapy session, I texted President Lovell: ‘Today the battle begins. So onward, Christian solider, marching as to war. With the cross of Jesus, going on before!'” Gering said in an email.

Also after hearing of Lovell’s diagnosis, Gering shared with him some of his own experiences with coronary artery disease, and undergoing quintuple bypass surgery.

Quintuple bypass surgery is an open heart surgery performed to operate on critically blocked arteries going into the heart.

“There was a moment of introspection that caused me to start living in the present and focusing on the things that bring joy into my life. And with time I came to realize that having bypass surgery was indeed a blessing,” Gering said in an email.

Gering said what stuck him the most was the amount of support from the community once Lovell informed the public of his diagnosis.

In his project management class, Gering said a group of his students planned a fundraiser for the Sarcoma Foundation, and another group has been handing out #LovellStrong bracelets.

“I wear a Marquette Cycling Team Jersey when I am out riding. After President Lovell’s announcement, I had cyclists come up to me as I was riding, introduce themselves and ask me to please relay their best wishes to President Lovell. I have ridden past groups of individuals, walking, or running, who have shouted LovellStrong!” Gering said in an email.

Gering said that Lovell has told him his journey with cancer has really opened his eyes as to how many other people on campus are undergoing cancer treatments or enduring other personal battles. Gering said that he knows Lovell is praying for them all.

University spokesperson, Kevin Conway said that Lovell is extremely touched by the astounding amount of support from both the Marquette and Milwaukee communities. He said that as Lovell started treatment, Lovell continues to “engage fully in campus life and attend all of his scheduled meeting and events.”

Conway said Lovell has frequently reported that he gets most of his energy from interacting with Marquette’s students, faculty and staff who Lovell said makes Marquette a genuinely special place.

“Since the fall semester started, he [Lovell] has dropped by several classes to talk with students and faculty, participated in O-Fest and a study abroad fair, received pies to the face for a Best Buddies fundraiser, logged miles with the President’s Running Club and hosted a thank you event for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions student tour guides,” Conway said in an email.

This story was written by Julia Abuzzahab. She can be reached at julianna.abuzzahab@marquette.edu