By Jeff Tucker

Boxing Out Cancer

In the Hoops 4 Hope basketball game, state legislators help New Mexico cancer patients at UNM Cancer Center

There’s no “I” team.

There’s no “D” or “R” either.

Once again, New Mexico state senators and representatives will set aside their party loyalties to team up with members of their legislative houses in a friendly game of basketball.

Bragging rights are at stake, but the real goal of the game is supporting New Mexicans and their families who are battling cancer. 

Hoops 4 Hope is an annual fundraising effort to help support cancer patients at The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center. This year, the game is set for Feb. 8 at the Santa Fe Indian School, 1501 Cerillos Road, in Santa Fe. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.

Coaching the NM House Aggies is Mario Moccia, New Mexico State University Atheltic Director.

Senate Lobos coach is UNM Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez.

“We appreciate the support of our state lawmakers who participate in the game every year," said Yolanda Sanchez, PhD, Director and CEO of the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center. "This game and fundraiser provides a crucial source of support for our patients and their loved ones, and it helps us provide the best, most compassionate care to all New Mexicans."

The game has generated more than $300,000 for the UNM Cancer Center’s patient care fund over the past 19 years. The game became an official fundraiser for the Center in 2004, when legislators began playing in memory of state Rep. Ray Ruiz, who died of lung cancer that year.

Last year, the game went into overtime with the New Mexico Senate beating the NM House 33-32. More than $31,000 was raised for the patient care fund.

The Hoops 4 Hope game is open to the public and donations are welcome and greatly appreciated. Donations are also accepted online at https://unmhealth.org/cancer/hoops4hope.html.

UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center

The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center is the Official Cancer Center of New Mexico and the only National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center in a 500-mile radius.

Its more than 120 board-certified oncology specialty physicians include cancer surgeons in every specialty (abdominal, thoracic, bone and soft tissue, neurosurgery, genitourinary, gynecology, and head and neck cancers), adult and pediatric hematologists/medical oncologists, gynecologic oncologists, and radiation oncologists. They, along with more than 600 other cancer healthcare professionals (nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists, navigators, psychologists and social workers), provide treatment to 65% of New Mexico's cancer patients from all across the state and partner with community health systems statewide to provide cancer care closer to home. They treated approximately 14,000 patients in about 100,000 ambulatory clinic visits in addition to in-patient hospitalizations at UNM Hospital.

A total of nearly 400 patients participated in cancer clinical trials testing new cancer treatments that include tests of novel cancer prevention strategies and cancer genome sequencing.

The more than 100 cancer research scientists affiliated with the UNMCCC were awarded $35.7 million in federal and private grants and contracts for cancer research projects. Since 2015, they have published nearly 1000 manuscripts, and promoting economic development, they filed 136 new patents and launched 10 new biotechnology start-up companies.

Finally, the physicians, scientists and staff have provided education and training experiences to more than 500 high school, undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral fellowship students in cancer research and cancer health care delivery.

Categories: Comprehensive Cancer Center