“It’s the only place we’d go”

By Lynn Clark

 Mary Lee Beauregard hates cancer. Breast cancer took her mother at the age of 47, and throat cancer took her father at the age of 80. One of her aunts has had cancer.

Her husband, Don, has a photo of six of his dearest friends at a wedding 10 years ago. Since then two died of cancer and two discovered cancer. “I have it on my desk, and it’s just pretty indicative of some of the impact we’ve seen from cancer with friends and family,” he says.

Mary Lee and Don Beauregard, CU Cancer Center donors.

Mary Lee says, “There’s nothing we’d like to see more than better treatments, fewer people being affected, and of course, a cure.”

Their commitment to funding cancer research began 30 years ago, when a serendipitous meeting with pioneering radiologist William Jobe, MD, led them to create the Nancy Gosselin Foundation.

“Dr. Jobe’s desire to find a platform outside his practice to raise money and awareness for cutting-edge breast cancer treatment in the late 1970s created a synergy with our desire to memorialize Mary Lee’s mother,” Don says. “The foundation had a modest beginning, but it really evolved into something special, thanks to our collaboration with Dr. Jobe. He was always reaching for the stars and brought some of us along.”

The foundation eventually became part of what is now the AMC Cancer Fund, one of the University of Colorado Cancer Center’s fundraising partners. Since then the Beauregards have been active participants in CancerCure, an annual giving organization benefiting University of Colorado Cancer Center, and Mary Lee has served on the University of Colorado Cancer Center board and chaired the CU Foundation board.

In the 1990s, Mary Lee took a job at the University of Colorado, first as director of public affairs, then as special assistant to the chancellor of the university’s health sciences campus.

“Through my involvement, it was clear to me how good our cancer center was,” she says, clearly so committed to the cause as to speak in the collective. “We have been able to draw incredible faculty to our program because of [University of Colorado Cancer Center founder] Dr. Paul Bunn and Dr. Bill Robinson. And now to get Dr. [Dan] Theodorescu as our second director to follow Paul—that says a lot. Paul is a star, and it seems like Dr. T is going to be a star also.”

As special assistant to the chancellor, Mary Lee was present at a pivotal meeting where the deal was struck to transfer the former Fitzsimons Army Hospital base to the University.

“It was Paul Bunn, Sen. Ted Stevens, who was head of the appropriations committee at the time, Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, the chancellor and me at a table at the Brown Palace at 7 am on a Sunday,” she recalls. “We needed an $8 million appropriation, and we got it. I’ll never forget sitting there, and Ted Stevens making that commitment.”

The first funding went to building the Anschutz Outpatient and Cancer Pavilions on what is now the Anschutz Medical Campus. Initial projections showed the campus would be built out in 50 years, Mary Lee recalls. “And then it was 20 years, and thanks to the Anschutz family and other generous families like the Leprinos and the Grohnes, it was built out in eight years,” she says, grinning. “That was incredible. And we’re out of space, and both hospitals [University of Colorado Hospital and The Children’s Hospital] are expanding!”

The Beauregards say their continued commitment to both giving money and raising money for the Cancer Center is easy to make.

“We support it because it’s the best,” Don says. “It’s a critical time. They are making tremendous strides, they have great leadership. This is the time when donors are getting the biggest bang for their buck. So many things have come together, and it’s like wow, now let’s propel it, let’s take it to the next level. But in order to do that it’s going to take people really reaching down deep and supporting it.”

Mary Lee says, besides raising money for the Cancer Center, she’s doing her best to make as many people aware of its excellence as she can.

“There is no need to leave Colorado,” she says. “We have an amazing cancer center. You could go story after story of people who had cancer here and they would say that’s absolutely right—the care is amazing, they have the latest technology, and the facility is wonderful. And it’s wonderful because of the people who have given, who made—for an awful situation—a wonderful place for people to go to get outstanding care.

“It’s the only place we’d go.”