You don’t know me: UK student undergoing cancer treatment speaks out about not judging by appearances

UK first year pharmacy student Lexi Baskin’s car was covered with signs condemning her for parking in a handicapped parking spot on UK’s campus on Oct. 26, 2017. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Bailey Vandiver

One member of the College of Pharmacy class of 2021 may have looked like the rest of her classmates when they all put on their white coats for the first time, but she had struggles that no one could see.

Not even the people who posted signs on her car, condemning her for using a handicapped spot when she had no visible ailment.

What those people did not know about Lexi Baskin is that she was diagnosed with grade II ependymoma over the summer, just weeks before she started pharmacy school.

One afternoon in October, she was in the pharmacy school for an hour or so for a meeting with a professor. When she and her friend walked back out to her car, they found signs taped to Baskin’s car.

“Shame on you!” one sign read. “There are legit handicapped people who need this parking space. We have seen you and your friend come and go and there is nothing handicapped about either of you. Your tag must be borrowed or fake. We will make every effort to see you fined or towed for being such a selfish, terrible person.”

Baskin said her friend was very angry.

“I was just so shaken up,” she said.

Baskin said they took the signs off, and she told her academic adviser, who was “crying because she was so upset that this was happening to me.”

She said she did not know what to do next, but her friend suggested tweeting about it. Baskin did, and her tweet soon went viral, with 47,000 retweets, 107,000 likes and almost 1,000 replies.

Along with pictures of the sign, Baskin’s tweet said, “Reminder that you have no idea what’s going on in people’s lives. I have cancer and radiation treatment. I’m legally allowed to park here.”

Baskin said that if she knew who did this to her car, she would not mind talking to them about her experiences.

“I would just want to let them know not to pass judgment on other people,” she said. “I’m praying for them to keep an open mind.”

UK Police is reviewing the situation, said UK spokesperson Jay Blanton. Baskin said she spoke with an officer she knew at UKPD but did not file a formal complaint.

“The school is taking care of it,” she said.

Blanton said that UK takes this act seriously. He and Director of Transportation Services Lance Broeking said this was an act by a “rogue” individual unaffiliated with Transportation Services or UKPD.

“Transportation Services regrets deeply that a student was subjected to this, as there are many reasons an individual may have an ADA accessible permit that may not be readily observable,” Broeking said.

Baskin applied for a UK Americans with Disabilities Act accessible student permit through Transportation Services.

“This is a community of belonging for everyone, regardless of identity or perspective, and part of that means ensuring everyone is treated with respect and dignity,” Broeking said.

Baskin said no one else had directly reacted to her handicapped parking before, but she thought people had likely wondered about her when she got out of her car.

She said it was sad to see so many people reply to her tweet who had experienced similar instances of discrimination.

“Just because you look fine doesn’t mean you are,” she said.

The day after her tweet went viral, Baskin quoted it and wrote, “The amount of love this tweet is getting is restoring my faith in humanity, thank y’all” with a heart emoji.

Baskin’s diagnosis stems back to May of 2016, when she was in a car accident. She was driving on Harrodsburg Road when someone ran a light, drove into her and flipped her car.

She then had headaches every day and several migraines a week. She was seeing a chiropractor because she thought they were caused by a neck injury.

But after a year of her pain getting worse, her chiropractor advised her to see a neurologist. The neurologist found the brain tumor.

On July 14, Baskin was diagnosed with grade II ependymoma. On July 28, she had surgery to remove the tumor.

Despite this change to her schedule, she started school as planned.

“I thought it was dumb to wait a whole year for something that would only take a couple of months to get through,” she said.

She said she had friends in her class and wanted to continue with them, so she started school as planned.

“I didn’t think I would actually get to have a first day of school this year, yet here’s the picture proof,” she posted on Instagram on the first day of the fall semester.

A little over a month later, she began radiation treatment.

On Nov. 15, Baskin will finish her last round of radiation treatment, and in 2021, she will graduate from the UK College of Pharmacy.