Our Stories 

We’re very proud of what we do. But nothing is more rewarding — or more humbling — than when someone tells us that we’ve changed his or her life. Some of those people share their amazing stories here. There are more to come, so please return to be inspired by their strength, courage, and honesty.


When Charlie sits down to eat with his lovely wife of 42 years, he thoroughly enjoys each bite. It’s not just the food; the entire experience is a celebration. In 2013, Charlie learned that he had stage IV throat cancer. For him, just surviving would have been an accomplishment — so swallowing again at a meal with a loved one is truly something special.

Charlie first discovered the lump in his throat while shaving. When it was still there a week later, he went to an urgent care center. A week and a half later, he was meeting with Nathan Boyd, MD, at the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Charlie recalls, “When I first got there to see Dr. Boyd, one of the nurses told me, ‘You really hit the lottery because you have some of the finest doctors working on you.’ And I agree. Dr. Boyd is one of the most fantastic people I’ve ever met.” 

Charlie is one of the first patients to undergo trans-oral robotic surgery (TORS) at the University of New Mexico Hospital. Dr. Boyd and Andrew Cowan, MD, PhD, performed the TORS procedure on Charlie. And the results have been stunning. Thanks to the surgery used, and follow up chemo and radiation treatments, Charlie is savoring every bite, and moment with family and friends. 

For people to be able to interact, and speak, and breath, and swallow, sit down and have a meal with friends and family — trans-oral robotic surgery allows us to do that.
– Andrew Cowan, MD, PhD
They had a plan to make me whole again.
    – Adam J.

When Adam first came to the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center, he had cancer throughout much of his body. What started as testicular cancer had moved up to his kidneys, his lungs, and his brain. His condition was critical and his treatment needs were complex.

There are very few places in the world where Adam could have found the care he received here. His case demanded that multiple sub-specialists – including lung surgeons, brain surgeons, urologists, and cancer surgeons – coordinate their work over a long period of time. Fortunately for Adam, all the care, expertise, and dedication he needed resides right here at the UNM Cancer Center.

Today Adam is cancer free. His recovery required him to relearn some basic motor skills, but he accomplished that – and much more. Now he’s back in college and pursuing a career in music. Rock on, Adam!

“Oncology is different than other specialties in that the patient and the doctor
have a common enemy ... and that's the cancer,”

— Richard Lauer, MD, FACP, Chief Medical Officer, UNM Cancer Center & Adam's Physician

 Meet Adam's Team at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center

I tell people my glass isn’t half full – it’s overflowing.
– Rebecca T. 

Rebecca received care from an entire team of experts. Her surgeons, radiologists, and oncologists all worked together to take her through her treatment successfully. "You meet people at their most vulnerable state in life. They’re not feeling well, have been diagnosed with the ‘c’ word, cancer. We really used a team approach to develop a multidisciplinary plan that would give her the best chance for a cure," said Ashwani Rajput, MD, FACS, Chief of Surgical Services and Rebecca's surgeon.


“She never ceases to amaze me. Judy V. had two surgeons in the same day. One performed her double mastectomy and the other began her breast reconstruction.”

— Zoneddy Dayao, MD, UNM Women's Cancer Center Expert, Hematologist/Oncologist


What would Aracely say to women who face a cancer diagnosis? “Stay strong for yourself and your family. You can fight, and you can win!”

When Aracely was first diagnosed with breast cancer, she was frightened. Would she find treatment? Would her family support her? Fortunately, she found support and hope – and the best cancer care – at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center. Thanks to them, she’s here today, encouraging all women to know their bodies and seek help when something seems wrong.

With love and assistance from her family, Aracely is fighting and winning her battle with breast cancer.

The UNM Cancer Center gave me a second chance at life.
– Aracely
Everyone at the UNM Cancer Center treats patients like family.
This time it happened to be true.
– Judy L.


When Judy L. first received her breast cancer diagnosis, she felt numbed by the news. So she did what many people do in such moments: She called her family. One call was to her brother James, who is a Patient Navigator at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center. He has considerable experience guiding patients through their cancer journey, and he immediately insisted she should come to the center for a second opinion.

Judy’s treatment was successful and much less invasive than the option she was presented with elsewhere. She also gained a new appreciation for her brother’s work, as she witnessed firsthand the way he guides patients to and from their appointments and treatments, delivering a level of care that makes each patient feel like family.

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Call for an Appointment or a Second Opinion 505-272-4946