Los Lunas wife and mother beat cancer with community’s support and prayers

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Amy Baca, a 33-year-old Los Lunas resident, has been on a grueling journey since she learned she had cancer last December, but she is now in remission.

Baca was a manager at RAKS Building Supply until an onslaught of excruciating back pain sent her to the hospital.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Amy Baca, a Los Lunas mother of two, Derek, left, and Jonathan, right, was diagnosed with leukemia last December, but she is now cancer-free.

The young mother of two was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a particularly aggressive form of cancer.

Now, after months of chemotherapy treatments, a bone marrow transplant and a lot of community support, the 33-year-old’s cancer is in full remission.

“I actually feel really good,” said Baca, flashing her radiant smile. “Better than I thought I’d be feeling. The cold weather gets to the bones a little bit, where I had all my biopsies in my back, otherwise I’m good.”

In August, she returned from the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Ariz., where she spent three months undergoing radiation treatment to remove all of her bone marrow to receive a bone-marrow transplant.

She doesn’t know who the donor is, only that he is a 31-year-old Anglo male, she said.

As the medical bills poured in, family and friends began efforts to raise money to help Amy and her husband, Kevin. They have been married for 17 years.

Although they are still living paycheck-to-paycheck, the community support kept them above water financially, Baca said.

The most recent efforts raised $6,080.

Sharon Pacheco, a doctor of optometry at Los Lunas Family Eye Care, heard about Baca’s leukemia through Baca’s sister-in-law, Veronica Baca, who was looking for ways to raise money. Pacheco decided to help.

“Sometimes we think, ‘Oh, someone else will do it, someone will raise the money,’” Pacheco said. “But then I thought, ‘Maybe, it’s time for me to do something like that.’”

Her husband, Phillip, joined her in the effort.

“She asked me how I felt about giving up a pair of our Denver Broncos tickets and sponsor a trip to Denver to raise money for Amy and her family,” Phillip Baca said. “And I thought it would be a good idea.”

Their church, Golf Road Church of Christ in Belen, helped run the raffle, and many members bought tickets as well as helped sell them, he said.

The Pachecos and Los Lunas Family Eye Care sponsored the round-trip air fare and a two-night stay in Denver, plus the tickets to see the Broncos play.

Most of the tickets were sold in Valencia County, but some were sold in Las Cruces, and as far away as Alaska, he said.

“It’s the first time I ever put anything like this together,” said Sharon Pacheco. “It showed me how giving people are, and that I could do it.”

The lucky winner of the raffle was Ellena Calles of Tomé.

The proceeds helped pay for Baca’s stay at the Mayo Clinic and two months for a hotel near the hospital, because after the transplant, she had to be under close observation for signs that her body rejected the transplant.

But it appears successful, and there have been no major complications. Amy is home, much to the relief of her sons, 4-year-old, Derek, and 7-year-old, Jonathan.

They were worried about their mom, they said, and sad when she had no hair.

“They only got to visit once,” she said. “That was hard.”

Baca hasn’t allowed the cancer to dominate her life.

“We have complete faith in God,” said Baca. “All the prayers and the love … the prayers have been outrageous. I felt them. Literally I could feel the power of prayer in me when I was healing.”


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.