Cancer Foundation for New Mexico – Why I’m in the Fight

January 3, 2018

John Lennon said “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” It’s true.

At no time in my life was it more true than on the day I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. I had just fulfilled my dream of moving to Santa Fe. I had a sweet little hundred year old adobe house in the Railyard district. I had a job as an online marketer for a lot of great clients – Austin Area Birthing Center, Ranch House Barbecue, Pick Up Sticks Jewelry Company, Two Casitas Vacation Rentals, just to name a few – that allowed me to sit in my sweet little house and write all day. I spent my evenings and weekends exploring and falling in love all over again with my new but very old city. And I was rebuilding my life after a pretty scathing breakup with a long term boyfriend.

And then one day, I had this tiny stitch in my side that progressed to an angry, hot stitch overnight. There’s a really long story about the events that led up to my doctor saying “You have stage 4 colon cancer with mets to your liver.” I’ll spare you those details, except that I started out being worried about an appendectomy. Didn’t turn out so well.

What I know is that I was making other plans. I had my real estate license, and had been selling for about eight years at that time. I was about to move my license to a Santa Fe brokerage. Instead I found myself unable to work very consistently. I had a lot of pesky trips to doctors and the chemo suite and then a surgeon in Houston at MD Anderson. I had surgery that left a long scar from my ribs to below my belly button. I had a slice of my liver removed along with about 12 inches of my colon.

Me in October 2015, speaking on the stage of the Lensic at the Fight CRC benefit

The good news is that I’m five years out from that November 9, 2012, diagnosis. I’m the most grateful person alive. My life is a dream these days. My business is thriving, my health is good, my family is healthy, and I’m recently married to one of my best friends in the world.

To whom much is given, much is required, right? That’s my belief. And I never want someone to hear the words “You have cancer,” and have to worry about details like where the grocery money is going to come from, how they’re going to afford overnight stays for radiation should they be from places like Mora or Taos or Raton, how they’re going to put gas in their car.

A couple of years ago, I put together a fundraiser for a wonderful organization called Fight Colorectal Cancer. With the help of the very talented Ottmar Liebert and the use of the Lensic Performing Center and the elbow grease of a lot of volunteers, we raised over $34,000 for Fight CRC. Here’s a link to how that all played out:  I loved doing that. But after the event was over, it was clear to me that my heart was in raising money for New Mexicans facing a cancer diagnosis. I’m a native New Mexican myself.

With Ottmar Liebert and Michael Sola of Fight CRC after the benefit

After the event, I was asked to serve on the Board of Directors for the Cancer Foundation for New Mexico. CFFNM does exactly what I believe in most – the foundation takes away the fears about groceries and gas and lodging for northern New Mexico cancer patients. It also provides a full time social worker at New Mexico Cancer Care in Santa Fe and several group therapy sessions each week, including one for caregivers.

This is why I’m in the fight – I know the fear associated with the diagnosis, and I know all too well how the tiniest details become overwhelming when you’re sitting in a chair in the chemo suite, sweating and fighting back nausea. I know scary. I’ve been there and back. And I want to help CFFNM to eliminate as much of that scary as possible by providing the essentials that will help folks get to treatment.

Their mission statement is this: “. . .to help save lives by providing the needed support to enable every northern New Mexican with cancer access to treatment in Santa Fe.” If you’d like to join me in this fight, feel free to email me at for more info. Or check out the Foundation’s website.  Right now I’m involved in locating items for the Sweetheart Auction, which will be held on February 3. I’m also seeking sponsorships for the event, which start at $350 (and this includes two tickets to the event, which are valued at $100 each).

Want to join me. This is a big fight and we need all the help we can get. Join us. And then tell me why you’re in the fight. I’d love to hear your story.


By the way, the featured photo is of a group of Fight CRC advocates in D.C. The second from the left person is my friend Chris Melloy Heffelbower. Chris didn’t make it back to Call on Congress after that year because her marathon battle with colon cancer ended. That’s another reason I’m in the fight! For Chris, and for Rose and for Gary and for the dozens of other friends I’ve lost to cancer.