After nearly 2-year battle, Merriam police officer beats cancer, goes back on patrol

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MERRIAM, Kan. — A Merriam police corporal is thankful to be alive and back on the beat.

Nearly two years ago he found out he had prostate cancer. Now, he’s back at work and hoping his experience can help others.

Cpl. Phil Lewis knew he wanted to be a police officer nearly 20 years ago when he went on a ride-along with a KCPD officer.

“It’s something I believe in. I have fun doing it. I love the job. I always wanted to do it,” Lewis said.

On his way to work one day, he noticed a symptom that concerned him and went to the doctor to have it checked out. It turned out the 42-year-old had Stage 3 prostate cancer.

“At first it was just words. It’s just something someone says to you, and you don’t really think about it. It’s when I had surgery and they told me the extent of it that I realized this was pretty serious,” Lewis said.

His coworkers are overjoyed he made it back to work, especially Capt. Chris Brokaw who he’s worked with for more than a decade.

“At the time, I didn’t know how bad it was really going to be until it started to unfold, and then we realized it was super serious, and then it got super serious super fast,” Brokaw said.

Lewis said his wife, stepkids, family and the department helped him recover in a way he can never repay.

“I started about a week ago. This past Monday was the first day I put my uniform on and went back on patrol,” Lewis said. 

He encourages others to go get checked out if they suspect anything. He’s glad he did.

Chief Darren McLaughlin survived Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma himself and is also back to work. He said they’re grateful to have Lewis back on the force and healthy because there was a time they weren’t sure it would be possible.

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