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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Family and friends back #LovellStrong

Being 2,173.8 miles away, University President Michael Lovell’s daughter Marissa was at home in Eugene, Oregon when she first heard the news of her father’s diagnosis.

“My mom texted me asking if there was a good time she could call, and I asked if it was urgent and she didn’t say it was urgent, so I went and did my post-work routine … [I] started making dinner and called my parents. …I had this big knife in my hand, and my mom was like, ‘you’re going to want to put that down for this,'” Marissa Lovell, community and school-based health promotion coordinator for Lane County, said.

Marissa said her initial reaction of hearing her dad’s cancer diagnosis was shocking, and she said she wanted to get on a plane and be with her family right away to support them all.

Anna Lovell, a senior in the College of Business Administration suspected there were health issues with her father, and when she heard of him and her mother going to a doctor’s appointment — she called immediately afterward.

“[I] was like, ‘can you please tell me what’s going on?'” Anna said.

Being on campus throughout his diagnosis, Anna said it was difficult having President Lovell’s diagnosis brought to the public.

“It’s definitely been interesting having something so private and personal that’s typically in someone’s family go public. It was definitely difficult to hear the news and not be able to tell anybody because of that … I think his team is optimistic,” Anna said.

Anna said she is appreciative that she is in close proximity to her father so she can stop by and say hello whenever and occasionally go home with him to have dinner with her family. She was also able to delay moving into her campus apartment by a week or two to spend more quality time with President Lovell.

“I’m very close with my dad and so … from people I’ve spoken with it sounds like it’s a great opportunity to become even closer,” Anna said. “I’ve spoken with other people whose parents have had cancer, and they say if there’s one thing that they really learned from it is that it helps them have a closer, deeper relationship with them.”

Marissa said she plans on returning to Milwaukee to be with her family during Thanksgiving for a few days, over Christmas and hopefully sometime this spring when her work schedule allows.

Anna and Marissa both said that their father’s cancer team is “optimistic” and “hopeful” that his treatment plan is working. Currently, Marissa said Lovell is undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment to battle sarcoma.

Due to chemotherapy, Lovell noticed he was starting to lose his hair when he and Anna went apple picking. Instead of letting her dad go through the situation alone, Anna said she suggested going along with him to his haircut appointment to “make it fun.”

“While he [the hairdresser] was shaving off his hair … he was like, ‘you know what would be fun? Let’s do a mohawk,’ and so he did a mohawk. He spiked it up and everything, and we got some pictures — we were laughing the whole time, so it was a great memory for us to have rather than it being something that would be difficult or emotional,” Anna said.

Marissa and Anna said their dad is a very active person and has a passion for running. President Lovell passed down his love for running to Marissa, as they would go on runs together frequently growing up.

“It’s definitely something that we’ve always done together, and that I’ve always kept going back to even when I would get injured just because it does mean so much just because of the moments I’ve shared with my dad over the years,” Marissa said.

Marissa said when she was on her middle school cross-country team she was originally one of the slowest runners there, but after a summer of practice with her father, and him teaching her how to properly pace herself and fall in love with the sport even more, she quickly became one of the fastest runners on her team.

“That’s something [running] that’s a really strong connection point between us,” Marissa said.

Although Marissa said President Lovell cannot be as active as he hoped he could be due to his cancer treatments, he’s still able to cycle and run.

This year, Lovell completed his biannual cycle ride to Holy Hill. Kurt Gering, instructor of practice, said nearly 100 riders accompanied him on the ride, despite the temperature being nearly 42 degrees.

“I think it was amazing seeing the many different segments of the community that came out to support President Lovell,” Gering said. “There was, of course, large representation from the Marquette family, including faculty, staff, students, as well as alumni. But there was also community leaders, company presidents and cycling clubs from all over the state. There were also professional cycling teams, including Skyler Schneider.”

Anna said she and her dad enjoy spending quality time together by watching reality television.

“He actually loves chick-flicks, and I don’t necessarily love chick-flicks, but I would watch reality TV … it’s such a bonding experience for us, we’ll like sit down on the couch and watch ‘The Bachelorette’ or different reality TV shows,” Anna said.

Anna originally coined the #LovellStrong movement, and created the ‘Prayers Up #LovellStrong’ bracelets around campus as a way to support her father as he supported her throughout her life.

Not only supporting her father, Anna said the bracelets are a reminder and message to everyone who has loved ones battling cancer.

“Yes it does say ‘Lovell Strong’ because I want to show him that people are supporting him, but I wanted it to be a reminder for everyone to pray for those who are struggling right now,” Anna said.

 This story was written by Julia Abuzzahab. She can be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Julia Abuzzahab, Executive Projects Editor
Julia Abuzzahab is a senior from Wausau, Wisconsin studying journalism and film and media studies and is the Executive Projects Editor of the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. Prior to this position, she served as the Executive News Editor for the organization. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys playing piano and seeing her friends. She is most excited to see all of the work her and her team accomplish this year and spending time with her friends in the newsroom.  

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