Local middle school student battles cancer

By William Thompson: Quay County Sun

Ashley Lopez, 13, will have to miss classes for the rest of the school year. She is battling cancer — Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Lopez, a 13-year-old student at Tucumcari Middle School, entered the University of New Mexico Medical Center Monday for undergoing chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“She has cancerous tumors in her neck and chest,” said Sherri Lopez, Ashley’s mother. “She’s already had surgery to remove part of the cancer and now doctors are using chemotherapy to remove the rest.”

On New Year’s Eve doctors made a preliminary diagnosis of lymphoma.

“It was a real shock to me,” Ashley said, “because I thought I just had asthma.”

Ashley said she uses her mind to battle the disease.

“I keep telling myself, my cancer is dying,” she said.

Sherri Lopez said doctors are hopeful Ashley will make a full recovery.

“The doctors said Ashley will look back on this as just a hiccup in her life,” she said. “The UNM Medical Center is supposed to have one of the best treatment centers for Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the U.S.”

The community has been there to help the Lopez familly. Ashley said the experience has taught her about human kindness.

“I didn’t realize there were so many people who care about me,” she said. “Some of the people I didn’t think they cared about me, but I’ve found out they do care about me.”

The Lopezes said cards and letters have arrived from all
over. Sherri Lopez said word of mouth has spread from members of the community to distant climes.

“There are prayer chains for Ashley from here all the way to New Zealand,” she said.

A fund to help the Lopez family called Fund for 55 has been set up at First National Bank of New Mexico. The number on Ashley’s basketball jersey is 55.

Friday at Rattler Gym, teachers held an annual basketball game, that doubled as a fund-raiser. Half of the money raised went to Ashley.

Ashley has a message for carefree teens.

“I was a straight-A student and I played basketball,” She said. “If you are in good health, don’t take it for granted. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody.”

Roberta Segura, principal of Tucumcari Middle School, said Ashley keeps up with her studies.

“She won’t have to repeat eighth grade,” Segura said. “All the students and teachers miss her. They have come together to collect money for Ashley and her family. The kids are hopeful for her.”