Franklin Woman to Step in Ring this Month to Fight Cancer
By J.D. O’Gara
This month, Franklin resident, Lisa DeFrancesco, will be taking a shot at knocking out cancer by fighting in the annual, “Haymakers for Hope Belles of the Brawl” charity boxing event. On Tuesday, December 7th at the House of Blues Boston, DeFrancesco, along with 25 other brave individuals residing in the New England area, will be stepping into the squared circle at this year’s event to raise money for The Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
DeFrancesco, who has lived in Franklin for seven years, is a married Mom of four. She found boxing at 1-2 Boxing in Franklin (which has since closed) a few years ago, simply looking for a new fitness routine.
“I was just looking to switch things up,” says DeFrancesco, a real estate photographer, who quickly fell in love with the sport. “I loved it from the first class,” she says. “It’s a challenge, something you’re never going to be perfect at no matter how long you do it. There’s always something to improve upon. I like the strategy of it. I think a lot of people who don’t watch boxing think it’s just a couple people punching each other, but for someone who knows a little something about the work and mechanics that go into it, it’s something to watch. It’s not a typical mother’s workout.”
Her coach at the time had suggested she do the Haymakers for Hope event, but DeFrancesco had shied away from the big event. Haymakers opens registration to everyday professionals in the Greater Boston area who have never boxed and want to practice the sport in front of a sellout crowd at the House of Blues. Participants get matched at local partnering gyms where they go through 4 months of intensive training. Since inception, Haymakers has raised more than $14.5M.
After her gym closed, DeFrancesco found herself at Elite Boxing in Attleboro, and then, right before Covid, she got a shocker.
“I had breast cancer,” says DeFrancesco. At the end of 2019, she had gone for her regular checkup. “My doctor had said guidelines had changed and you don’t need to do a mammogram every year, and that I could go next year.” DeFrancesco decided to go ahead anyway with the test. “And so I went, and that’s when they found something. Thank God I went. You have to be your own advocate. It’s your body, and it’s just so important to trust your instincts and trust yourself.”
With her official diagnosis coming in February of 2020, DeFrancesco says that since it was caught early, doctors weren’t too concerned. In March, she went through “the whole gamut of meeting with the surgeon, oncology, general testing. We kind of went through that whirlwind and then the very next day, everything shut down. They said, ‘Okay, you need surgery, but we can’t do it right now.’ And the worst part was, nobody knew when.”
The wait ended up being four months, and after treatment and finally being diagnosed cancer free, she heard from her original boxing coach with a text that read, “Now?”
Now was the time, and DeFrancesco is looking to face her opponent in the ring with three 2-minute rounds. The amateur boxer isn’t worried, as she’ll be wearing full headgear, and she has the support of her husband, children and friends.
“This kind of came together as two worlds that I’m super passionate about,” says DeFrancesco. “I never expected cancer to be part of my story, but I’m looking at this as a way to show my kids and anybody who’s interested that it’s not what happens in life, it’s what you do with what happens in life.”
If you would like to support Lisa’s fundraising efforts prior to her fight, visit