Debra Thal at Ooh Ahh Point on the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand
Canyon—1.5 miles and 780 feet below the rim.
Breast cancer survivor Thal lives the motto: “Hike On!”
When twenty-two-year Placitas resident Debra Romero Thal joined
the Hike For Discovery program in January, like most other participants,
she wanted to help raise money for blood cancer research while getting
outdoors and meeting new people to hike with. As a thirteen-year
breast cancer survivor, she knows the importance of continuing research
against cancer, and Hike For Discovery’s parent organization,
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, works to find better treatments
and cures. She signed on to train with the team for four months,
preparing for a long hike at Grand Canyon National Park as the highlight
of the season.
She never dreamed that very soon she’d be back in the cancer
battle herself. About a month into the hiking season she still couldn’t
kick a bad chest cold. Her physicians initially thought she had
bronchitis, or exercise-induced asthma. Thal knew from previous
experience this wasn’t the answer, and insisted the doctors
keep looking. It turned out Thal had a relapse of the breast cancer
she defeated over thirteen years ago. While she was initially shocked
and saddened, her attitude was optimistic: “This is a reminder
to be an advocate for your own health, and proof that research has
come a long way in thirteen years.” Instead of the chemo and
radiation that were her fate before, this time around Thal is on
an oral medication that allows her to continue her active lifestyle
with relative normalcy. This includes continuing to exercise and
hike with the team. When she had to take a break from hiking for
the diagnostic tests, she sent a message to the team through The
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society staff: “I told them, ‘If
you don’t think your doctors are on the right track, or think
more is going on, you may be right. Keep asking, keep pushing; this
is your life at stake. Be your own best advocate. Ask questions,
research information, and always promote a dialogue with your doctors.’”
And life goes on for Thal. On May 18, she traveled to the Grand
Canyon for Hike For Discovery’s event hike, having raised
over $11,000 for research into cures for blood-related cancers through
the Hike For Discovery program. Despite her diagnosis, Thal kept
hiking, kept fundraising, and inspired the entire team to greater
success this season.
Each Hike For Discovery participant is assigned a mentor, and
Thal’s mentor Liz Huffman believes, “Having Debra on
the team this season was eye-opening for all of us at Hike for Discovery.
Debra immediately shared her diagnosis with us, so the team would
know to be proactive about their health, and aware of how cancer
can sneak back into your life.” Huffman added, “What’s
most amazing about Debra is that the concept of quitting Hike, or
anything else, never occurred to her. Here’s a breast cancer
patient, who could very easily retreat into her own nightmare, reaching
out and fundraising for the cures for leukemia and other blood-related
cancers, because she believes in what we do. That’s been very
powerful for the team, and for me, to know this season.”
Hike For Discovery is currently registering participants for the
fall season, with event hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park and
Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For more information, call
Kirsten Theisen at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at (505)
872-0141, ext. 235 or visit hikefordiscovery.org/nm.
Duende Poetry Series presents a tribute to Keith Wilson
Friends and cohorts will read their favorite Wilson poems and share
stories to offer tribute to one of the Southwest’s most influential
poets, the Poet Laureate of Las Cruces, Keith Wilson. Coming to
read their favorite Keith Wilson poem are Bobby Byrd, Wayne Crawford,
Tony Mares, Leo Romero, Heloise Wilson, and more.
Keith Wilson, a native New Mexican poet and short story writer,
is the author of many books. He is Professor Emeritus in English
at NMSU, and has received numerous awards, among them the National
Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, the Premio Fronterizo
from the Border Book Festival for Lifetime Achievement, and the
New Mexico Governor’s Award in 1988 (Wilson was the first
poet to receive it). Wilson was named Poet Laureate of the city
of Las Cruces. His memoir, a compendium entitled The Cause of
Rite was published in October 2001 by Pennywhistle Press, and
his Collected Poems are forthcoming by Clark City Press.
Wilson attended UNM and the U.S. Naval Academy, and after military
service during the Korean War, became not only a writer of both
prose and poetry, but a professor at the University of Nevada at
Reno, University of Arizona, and for many years at New Mexico State
University. He has also taught as Visiting Professor/Poet at the
University of Kansas, Utah State University, and the Universities
of Sibiu and Cluj in Romania, as well as Visiting Poet at the William
Joiner Writer’s Conference at the University of Massachusetts.
Other awards include a PEN American Center Grant; PEN-West Book
Award; D.H. Lawrence Creative Writing Fellowship; Senior Fulbright-Hayes
Fellowship to Romania; and his book Graves Registry was
nominated for the National Book Award in poetry.
Among Wilson’s many books are: Graves Registry &
Other Poems, Sketches of a New Mexico Hill Town, Homestead,
The Shadow of our Bones, Some Faces for America, The Shaman Deer,
While Dancing Feet Shatter the Earth, Bosque Redondo, and Streets
of San Miguel.
The June 15 afternoon event will be an homage reading for Keith
(now eighty), who can no longer speak but is very active, still
writing, publishing, and going to poetry readings. His wife Heloise
has become his voice and reads his work very well. She will read
some of his work, and then poets from all over New Mexico will come
to the podium to read a tribute poem for him.
The reading will take place at 3 pm, June 15, at the Anasazi Fields
Winery in Placitas. Guests can taste and purchase wines made from
local fruit, and be inspired by the region’s wealth of poets.
Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages will be available, too. A suggested
donation of $3 will pay the poets. To get to the Winery, take I-25
to the Placitas exit 242, drive six miles east to the Village, turn
left at the sign just before the Presbyterian Church, follow Camino
de los Pueblitos through two stop signs to the Winery entrance.
The next reading in the Duende Poetry Series of quarterly poetry
readings will be on September 14. For more information, contact
Jim Fish at 867-3062 or email@example.com,
or Cirrelda Snider-Bryan at 897-0285 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is sadness among the stones
today, the rabbits are silent.
No wind. The heat bears down.
It has not rained for one year.
We have faith out here, desert
people, we wait, knowing with sureness
the swift cross of clouds, the blessings
of moisture (to deprive a man is to give
charms to him). I love this dry land
am caught even by blowing sand, reaches
of hot winds. I am not the desert
but its real name is not so far from mine.