Friends Rally to Support Judge Ola Lewis as She Battles Rare Liver Cancerby Staff Writer Lindsay Kriz contributed to this report and by Laura Lewis is a staff writer for The Beacon December 19, 2017
A news release issued this week by Lewis’ office in Bolivia stated Lewis has been diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer and has been undergoing treatment at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in Minnesota.
Lewis stated in the release she has been in Rochester, Minn., since Nov. 13.
“Upon consultation with my doctors, my husband, Reggie, and I decided the best course of action for my health and well-being is to remain in Rochester for the duration of my treatment,” Lewis is quoted in the release issued out by Michelle Ingram, Superior Court Trial Court Coordinator for District 13B.
Lewis added the treatment is expected to last six months.
“Of course I miss my family, my friends and the community I so love!” Lewis wrote. “I sincerely appreciate the outpouring of prayers and well wishes. I walk this walk like every other in my life … with my hand in the Hand of the Man who calms the waters.
“Please know I am firm in my faith, trusting God at every turn,” Lewis added. “My spirit is bright and upbeat and I look forward to returning home wiser, healthier and full of energy ready to serve.
“By His Grace I am #OlaStrong.”
Lewis, 52, was elected senior resident Superior Court judge in 2010. Prior to that, she served as District Court judge in 1994 and also ran for Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court in 2014.
The Southport resident is a native of Spring Lake near Fayetteville, a self-proclaimed “military brat” and daughter of 82nd Airborne paratrooper-turned-principal at South Brunswick High School, the late Moses Lewis.
Like her father, Lewis earned her undergraduate degree from Fayetteville State University. She went on to graduate from North Carolina Central University Law School, then came to Brunswick County in 1991. Following a two-year stint as assistant district attorney, she was appointed district judge.
Former Gov. James B. Hunt appointed her to serve as special superior court judge that kept her traveling among 21 counties.
In an interview with the Beacon recognizing her as one of its Trailblazers for 2010, Lewis said she decided to run for a resident superior court judge seat in Brunswick County because it had been about 30 years since county residents had had their own judge.
In 2006, the 13th prosecutorial district split at the superior court level to 13A, which is Bladen and Columbus counties and 13B, which is Brunswick County. At that time Lewis was named Senior Resident Superior Court Judge.
Lewis has been lauded for her trail-blazing efforts and programs, including the launch of her tough but renowned Drug Treatment Court in July 2008.
Lewis also established the Brunswick County Opioid Task Force earlier this year, which is comprised of law enforcement offers, members of the faith-based community, medical and treatment providers, health and human services and representatives of many other organizations throughout the community.
“After attending a similar task force meeting in New Hanover County, I was taken back by how, while the needs in a metropolitan area such as Wilmington are critical, they are vastly different than what we experience in rural Brunswick County, specifically regarding treatment, transportation, housing and jobs,” Lewis said in a news release from earlier this year. “I felt compelled to explore our own task force to address those needs which are unique and equally critical to our community.”
Staff Writer Lindsay Kriz contributed to this report.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer for the Beacon.