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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas Democrat-Gazette file photo Arkansas Ladyback India Lewis drives past South Carolina's Shaunzinski Gortman in a game during the 2002 season.

One of the greatest athletes in Siloam Springs High School history is now in a fight for her life.

Former Lady Panther and Razorback India Lewis was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer last week and is receiving medical care at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, Okla.

Lewis' cancer has spread to her spine and she's also battling blood clots, according to her father Porky Lewis.

"It's pretty severe. It's in about four to five different places," Porky Lewis said by phone Wednesday night from St. John. "They've been trying to get her breathing and all that regulated over here so she can get radiation started as quick as possible on her brain and on her spine. It all came about real quick."

Porky Lewis said India had not been feeling well in recent weeks and about two weeks ago went to the Cherokee medical clinic in Jay, Okla. Porky said doctors there recommended she take allergy medicine.

"She thought it was allergies and bronchitis," said her mother, Carmen Lewis.

A week later, India went to the urgent care clinic in Siloam Springs, where she had X-rays.

"That same night they sent her to St. John," Porky said.

Porky said doctors have said India's illness is a very complex case.

"To put it in people's terms, she is like a very advanced Rubik's cube," he said. "When they work on one thing that will affect another part and that will affect another part and another part."

Porky said India, at the time, didn't have any indications that something was wrong.

"She thought she was sore from hitting infield to her little ball team," Porky said. "Coughing has been bothering her, but she was thinking that was allergies. She's always been an athlete so aches and pains have always been a part of her life."

India Lewis was a multiple-sport standout athlete at Siloam Springs in the late 1990s, starring in volleyball, basketball and softball.

She's probably best known for leading the Lady Panthers basketball team to the Class AAAA state championship in 1999. She was named Miss Basketball by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and also garnered the newspaper's Female Athlete of the Year award in 1999.

Lewis then went on to play four seasons at the University of Arkansas under then-coach Gary Blair, where she was a regular contributor and second on the team in scoring the last two years. The Razorbacks reached the NCAA Tournament in three of her four seasons there.

Blair, now the head coach at Texas A&M, has reached out to Lewis since she's been in the hospital as has Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer, a former Arkansas assistant coach, and lots of other people from her life.

"She's always been a people person," Porky Lewis said. "The support and prayers from everybody is almost unbelievable. People coming to visit her -- lots of visitors.

"Sports have tied our family to many, many people around the country and around the world."

Porky Lewis said country music singer Michael Ray sent her a video and dedicated one of his concerts to her.

"She's got a tremendous amount of support from all walks of life," Porky said.

A Go Fund Me account has been started for India Lewis at https://www.gofundme.com/india039s-eliminate-cancer-fund. As of Thursday morning nearly $10,000 had been raised.

There also is an India Lewis Contribution Fund at Arvest Bank, started by Amber Shirey, a former UA assistant.

India Lewis, along with her mother and sister Brandi, coach a 9-year-old All-Star baseball team with Siloam Springs Youth Baseball. The team has been wearing a pink ribbon on their sleeves with #21 on them. Pig Trail Clothing also is selling shirts with a logo on them and all sales will go to benefit India Lewis.

A #IndiaStrong21 Fight Cancer Day has been set up in Tahlequah, Okla., on June 27, and a co-ed softball tournament to benefit Lewis will be July 28 in Tahlequah.

Carmen Lewis said she would like to thank all who brought food to the family in Tulsa, including Rib Crib of Siloam Springs.

Sports on 06/24/2018

Print Headline: Former star India Lewis battling cancer

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