Former Charger girl loses battle to cancer

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SAN DIEGO - Former Charger girl, Lyly Koenig-Mendez, lost her battle to breast cancer on January 20, 2015 in Houston, Texas.

"After hearing the bad news of not being able to treat her for the breast cancer which had metastasized to her liver and had spread... we decided it was best to spend the rest of the time with family," James Mendez, Lyly's husband, said Monday.

Mendez, who many described as the life of the party, spent six years cheering in the NFL. Five of those years was spent with the St. Louis Rams. From 2001 to 2002, she cheered for the San Diego Chargers, where she met her best friend, former Charger girl, Tracey Lackovich.

Lackovich recalled what she remembered of Mendez during their time in camp, "[Lyly was] always so happy go lucky. So fun. Her high pitched voice coming into practice, having nicknames for everyone."

Former Charger girl, Lyly Mendez, loses battle to breast cancer.

Former Charger girl, Lyly Mendez, loses battle to breast cancer.

She continued on to say Mendez was a true fighter.

"[Lyly was] like a rock. You wouldn't even know she was sick... I'm just overwhelmed at the amount of people Lyly has influenced. She clearly left a lasting impression in the hearts and the minds of so many women," Lackovich said.

Mendez was an orphan from Vietnam. She was rescued in "Operation Baby Lift" in the 1970's. Camp Pendleton received the orphans rescued by the U.S. military during that time. That's where her family adopted Lyly, then raised her in a town outside of St. Louis, Missouri.

Mendez's battle with cancer was brutal. It started in 2006 when she was diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer. After treatment, she was clear of cancer just one year after diagnosis.

In 2009, she was diagnosed with recurrent breast cancer.

"The time it attached to her rib cage, at her sternum," her husband said.

Following more rounds of chemotherapy and radiation followed as well as surgery, she was said to be cancer free.

Soon after, she was a new bride to James Mendez of the U.S. Army. However, the day he was deployed to Kuwait in 2012, Lyly discovered she had Stage IV cancer that had spread to her bones, liver, lungs and lymph nodes.

One of her final requests before she passed was to have her ashes released in her birthplace of Vietnam, as well as her two favorite beach towns, including San Diego and Miami.The 40th anniversary of "Operation Baby Lift" is scheduled for the end of March, which is when her family hopes to bring her ashes to Vietnam to be reunited with her brothers and sisters. A fundraising website has been set up to help her family make that wish a reality.

Download Fox 5 iPhone app  |  Download Fox 5 Android app

Meet the 2014-15 Charger Girls