KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Michael Moore made sure to wear his favorite pink shirt while at the Radisson Hotel Monday morning. It was the Red Cross’ 34th annual holiday blood drive and for the third straight year it was in honor of his daughter former police sergeant Lisa Zuk.
“Her big thing was helping people, hence the job that she had,” Michael said while wearing a shirt that read Team Lisa. “She helped a lot of people become aware of the chance of them contracting this disease.”
Lisa served as a sergeant with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety for years and loved it, Michael said. She also gave blood regularly with the Red Cross before she was forced to stop due to a diagnosis of breast cancer.
“I got the phone call from her the day before her 35th birthday in August of 2013,” Michael said. “Because of her young age they did genetic testing and discovered she had the brca1 gene mutation.”
Brca1 ran through the family, Micahel learned. Immediately Lisa underwent treatment and for the first time began receiving blood instead of giving it.
“It means the difference between living and dying,” said Jane Emanuel, the donor recruitment representative with the Red Cross. “With Lisa it enabled her to keep doing the treatments because chemotherapy wears your body down.”
That's what happened to Lisa and after two years of battling the disease she died. Her family was devastated along with her KDPS colleagues. It was at that time that the Red Cross made them a special offer to use their annual holiday blood drive to honor her.
“Until you actually know someone or have a story, sometimes it doesn’t really resonate with people,” Emanuel said. “But when they have a story and they can put a face with it, then it really makes a difference.”
Over 100 people donated blood at this year's event. Emanuel said one pint saves three people. Michael was grateful that his daughter's legacy was kept alive. The family used the time to remind people to be attuned to your health.
"Just be aware," Michael said. "It’s like everything else you hear with cancer. The sooner they find it the better off you are."