Brandywine Living team members, as well as Main Line Health Homecare and Hospice leadership, were thrilled to welcome Lisa Thomas-Laury to Brandywine Living at Haverford Estates on March 8, 2018, for an appearance and book signing.
Christina Esandrio, Strategic Partnership Specialist at Brandywine Living, who is a personal fan of Lisa Thomas-Laury, planned the event after a meeting with Gloria Recchi, MSW, Hospital and Community Liaison. Gloria mentioned that she was friendly with Lisa’s son, Langston, a relationship that could result in a book-signing event.
“I was very excited to hear that there was an opportunity to invite Lisa to Brandywine Living. While growing up, despite having access to both New York and Philadelphia news, my family always tuned into Channel 6 Philadelphia news during dinner to watch Lisa Thomas-Laury. I would admire her elegance and strength as a female news anchor. She was, and still is, a role model for many teenage girls,” said Christina Esandrio.
Although there was an overwhelming amount of interest in the event, an atypical March snowstorm did keep some registrants away. But for the 20 guests who came out in the cold, the planned lecture turned into an intimate evening of discussion, book signing and picture taking.
Guests were welcomed with a hot and cold buffet of hors-d’oeuvres, wine and refreshments. Lisa Thomas-Laury mingled and chatted as they arrived. Christina and Gloria welcomed the attendees and introduced Lisa, who sat with the guests for over an hour, and discussed her book her story and answered questions.
Gloria Recchi commented, “It was such a wonderful evening! The staff at Brandywine made it a gift to everyone who attended. I sensed even Lisa could have stayed all night. She shared many stories as we all listened to the good and the challenges of On Camera and Off.”
“This was “perfect timing” in what I am facing ahead of me. Lisa portrayed her strength in fighting for her health, her strong faith in God and her love for family and friends that were beside her in every step while facing a life-threatening diagnosis,” said an attendee.
Lisa explained how her book “On Camera and Off: When the News is Good and When It’s Not” is her biography that tells the story of her remarkable journey from becoming one of the youngest and first female to anchor in Philadelphia during some trying time. In 1983, a bitter-sweet, life-changing event happened when Action News 5 o’clock anchor Jim O’Brien was killed in a skydiving accident, and Thomas-Laury was promoted. She went on to anchor the evening news with Marc Howard for 19 years.
Thomas-Laury explained that her journey shines light on a lot of race issues in the late 70s. “I was well aware that a big part of my appeal to management at 6ABC was that I was African American but didn’t look “too” black,” shared Lisa.
In 2001 she started to experience pain, tingling and discoloration in her feet and ankles. She saw many physicians who were unsure of the diagnosis and by 2013, she was extremely ill. When Lisa Thomas-Laury was in the thick of her debilitating, mysterious illness she could hardly walk, had a paralyzed vocal cord, digestive issues, and tremendous fatigue. In 2004, she went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and was diagnosed with POEMS (Polyneuropathy, Organomegaly, Endocrinopathy, Monoclonal protein, Skin changes).
She received a bone-marrow transplant using her own good marrow and several rounds of chemotherapy. In 2015, Thomas-Laury had to have a second bone-marrow transplant and she officially retired in 2016.
“If I can struggle with getting an accurate diagnosis, I wonder about people who do not have a physician in the family or the resources that I do,” said Lisa. She advises, “If you have doubts get a second opinion, get a third, a fourth – whatever it takes to get it right.”
Determination and a supportive family helped her through it all. Lisa lovingly told us about her physician husband, Bill Laury, and her grown sons Langston and Leland. Just eight days before meeting us, she welcomed her first grandchild, a grandson, also named Langston. Her family played a large role in encouraging her to write the book and share her story.
“I had the best time at Brandywine Living at Haverford last Thursday! It was like an evening with great friends; good food, terrific conversation and wonderful people. Thank you again,” said Lisa.
About Brandywine Living
Brandywine Living (formerly Brandywine Senior Living) is a market leader in luxury senior living, including assisted living, memory care and independent living. Founded in 1996, and headquartered in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, Brandywine currently operates 29 communities in six states (PA, NJ, NY, CT, VA & DE) with capacity to serve over 3,000 residents.