Wednesday, October 22, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Margarita Lopez: a local hero of hope

margarita lopez, 1/22/13

Melinda Guzman, left, the godmother of Margarita Lopez, right, gives Lopez a hug after presenting her with the Armando Peraza award at the Voices of Latin Rock fundraiser for autism research at Bimbo's 365 Club in San Francisco, Thursday evening. The award recognizes people who have made a difference in their community. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)

By
From page C1 | January 27, 2013 |

FAIRFIELD — Lifelong Fairfield resident Margarita Lopez, 47, has always been a go-getter. From being a real estate agent entrepreneur, community leader, business owner and mother – it seemed nothing could slow her down.

Except cancer.

Valiantly fighting the dreaded disease for the second time in five years, Lopez continues to reach out to others while making the most of any opportunity to cherish being in the present.

Lopez’s start in real estate came when she lived with an older brother who had been buying, building up and selling property for years. Once she was ready to rent an apartment, he had a talk with her.

“He sat me down and said that you don’t want to pay someone else’s mortgage, you want to get your own place if you can,” Lopez said. “I bought my first house when I was 19 years old.”

Lopez eventually became a loan officer at the bank in Fairfield. She later acquired her real estate license and become the manager/owner of an affiliate real estate company in Sacramento. She opened her own real estate office in 1998.

While helping match potential buyers with properties was the primary part of her job, Lopez also wanted to get the word out about how to make the dream of home ownership a reality.

“I would hold monthly homebuyer seminars in Napa and here in Fairfield at title companies. There were times when I would have them weekly because so many people came out,” Lopez said. “I showed them how to establish credit, how to save money and other things. It was very cool to see their eyes light up when they realized that they could do it.”

In 2007, Lopez was named Latina Businessowner of the Year by the Solano Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“It was the first year that Solano had its own Hispanic chamber. The year before that Solano and Napa did it jointly, so when they called and told me they were honoring me, I was pretty blown away,” Lopez said. “You don’t do it to get recognition, you just do it because you like helping people. So to get acknowledged was quite an honor for me.”

In October 2008, Lopez received a positive diagnosis of Stage IIIb (just shy of Stage IV) breast cancer after finding a lump while dressing two months before. The doctor’s voice on the phone was unintelligible to her after he uttered the word “positive.”

“It’s difficult to process,” Lopez said. “If you don’t have anyone who has been diagnosed, then it’s scary. Well, actually it’s scary regardless, when it is brand new in your world. When you hear your diagnosis, it’s probably a good idea to have someone else there to ask questions and ask about treatment options.”

Lopez then went through what, at that time, was the most aggressive chemotherapy regimen available, along with Herceptin antibody treatment. The Herceptin was warranted because the kind of cancer she had contained a protein, HER2 positive, that makes it multiply faster and that is what the Herceptin blocks.

In what has been the take-charge way she has led her life, Lopez educated herself on options and available treatments, and when she disagreed, she spoke out. The surgeon she chose performed a lumpectomy, then she had a second surgery to remove cancer from her lymph nodes and chest wall. After six months of radiation and a year more of other treatments, in 2010 she was clear.

“I had a 60 percent chance of a recurrence within two years and, by April 2012, two years had gone by without a recurrence. I was ecstatic,” Lopez said.

In September 2012, however, Lopez was newly diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer that had spread throughout her lymph nodes from her groin to her neck.

While devastating, as it happened a new drug, Perjeta, designed to help patients with Lopez’s exact diagnosis, was approved in June  2012 after use in the CLEOPATRA (Clinical Evaluation of Pertuzumab and Trastuzumab) study.

“Had I been diagnosed in April, May or June, I wouldn’t be on the treatment I am on now because Perjeta wasn’t approved until June,” Lopez said. “It works with the Herceptin to better block the HER2 receptors and increases your life expectancy by up to 18 months, which is pretty awesome.”

Lopez was aware of the CLEOPATRA study because she didn’t cede her care over to others but has tried to stay on top of it. She urges others to do the same.

“Become an advocate for yourself. Be a part of your own medical team. I’ve met people who experienced unnecessary pain or nausea because they are not their own advocate,” Lopez said.

While doing all she can to battle her cancer, Lopez wastes no time in doing what has come natural to her all her life, helping others. She has helped with the American Cancer Society, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation and did TV spots for Spanish network Univision.

In September 2011, Lopez was featured on the cover of Solano County Bilingual magazine La Voz, “The Voice.” The name of the article was “I Survived.” Singer/songwriter Skyler Jett, who has worked with numerous top artists including Celine Dion, had written a song with the same title. So it was natural to use it to raise awareness and provide comfort.

“So we put a group of people together and Sharon Wynn sings the song and people become aware of how music touches the soul,” Lopez said. “It has touched so many people. It’s about bringing that song to the masses.”

Lopez’s contributions to the community have not gone unnoticed. Last week she was awarded the Armando Peraza award at the Voices of Latin Rock fundraiser for autism research in San Francisco. She is also an American Cancer Society Hero of Hope for 2013-14.

Lopez also has kept a blog/vlog (videolog) of her sometimes tumultuous journey, which she posts to Facebook. In past entries, Lopez has been at turns inspirational, bone-weary, hopeful and vigilant. She has talked about the accumulation effect of the treatments, how “chemo brain” is definitely real and has stressed eating right, being physically active and doing normal activities. Above all, she reiterates keeping a positive attitude.

“A friend of mine made a vlog for his family and I thought it was a beautiful thing. It’s, number one, for my kids and, number two, to provide information for someone who is newly diagnosed or knows someone who is so they will know what it is like to go through treatment,” Lopez said. “I try to talk about my own personal journey and also discuss the medications and resources, as well. It is healing to talk about it. Whether or not it actually does, doesn’t matter. When you are coming from that place, it is absolutely healing.”

Despite the battle with the invader in her body, Lopez remains positive. Her sign-off for the online journal of her journey reflects the positivity she has cultivated and tries to share.

With a smile and a point directly at the viewer she says, “Don’t forget . . . you have a lot to be grateful for.”

Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at getthelowdown@sbcglobal.net.

Margarita Lopez’s Blog “My Journey:” http://margaritalopez.me

Tony Wade

Tony Wade

Tony Wade is the slightly older yet infinitely more handsome brother of long-time DR columnist Kelvin Wade
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 5 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • jeff tragerJanuary 27, 2013 - 3:48 am

    Thank you to the staff at the DR for this story on one of most courageous and amazing people I have ever met. Talk about inspirational! A true champion who makes the sun shine in life everyday.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Teresa CourtemancheJanuary 27, 2013 - 8:25 am

    Margarita is an amazing human being! This community and our world is a better place because of her. Thank you Daily Republic for sharing Margarita's courageous and inspirational story.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Blanca HidalgoJanuary 27, 2013 - 8:43 am

    I am honored to call this beautiful,strong, courageous Woman, my friend...She has inspired so many people and once again not to be recognized but to educate and encourage those that are on this journey. We met way back when we were in high school and she holds a special place in my heart. Margarita loves life and lives each day to the fullest..Thank you Daily Republic for sharing her story.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Kathy PottsJanuary 27, 2013 - 9:47 am

    Margie is truly an inspiration to us all. I can't imagine what she has gone through but am so proud of her strength that has gotten her through all this. I pray for her everyday and have been fortunate to have known her since junior high.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Melinda GuzmanJanuary 27, 2013 - 10:32 pm

    Thank you for sharing Margarita's journey with the community. She is one of the most positive spirits I know and is an example of how having a positive atttude can impact recovery from a disease. Notwithstanding the very serious diagnosis she doesn't stop spreading a message if awareness and hope. Her journey is far from over and hopefully sharing this story can encourage people to share in her journey and in the journey of others who battle life's diseases. Congratulations Margarita!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Crime key topic again at Fairfield candidates night

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 42 Comments | Gallery

 
Dixon corn maze breaks own world record

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A2, 2 Comments | Gallery

Families Helping Families preps for holidays

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Charity Tree Auction application deadline nears

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

Tots can trick-or-treat at Solano Town Center

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Car washes raising money to fight breast cancer

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Fairfield Police Department promotes 2, honors 1

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
 
2 new challenges part of 2014 Solano Turkey Trot

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
PAL center seeks volunteers

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Solano names new First 5 director

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A6

 
$1.4M land sale by Fairfield gets OK

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

Action, thriller movies headed to box office

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

 
Fairfield police log: Oct. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Oct. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Oct. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Oct. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Oct. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Oct. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

FBI: Denver girls may have tried to join jihadis

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 4 Comments

 
IS fighters seize weapons cache meant for Kurds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Assad pursues withering campaign against rebels

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
7 arrested in Oakland raid on Black Muslim Temple

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Stinky seaweed piling up at upscale Laguna Beach

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Golden Gate Bridge officials float sidewalk toll

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 5 Comments

5 Jonestown victims buried in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
New rules adopted in hopes of spurring home loans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

California man goes missing during road trip

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

 
2nd guilty plea in California tainted beef case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Pakistani Nobel laureate honored in Philadelphia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Cadaver dog searches in suspected serial killings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Schools scoured in search for ambush suspect

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

AP-GfK Poll: Most expect GOP victory in November

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Freed Vietnamese dissident travels to US: official

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

North Korea frees US man; 2 more still detained

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
US expands Ebola checks; Rwanda to check Americans

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

WHO: Ebola vaccine trials in W. Africa in January

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Brown meets with health care experts about Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

.

Opinion

Day, Blankenchip good for respective cities

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 6 Comments

 
‘Misleading’ mailer sent to residents

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 10 Comments

Expect voter participation to drop

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11, 12 Comments

 
Editorial Cartoons: Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
Spering kept youth league going

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 14 Comments

.

Living

Today in History: Oct. 22, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Oct. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Oct. 22, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B6

 
Is it OK for a business to use its contacts to raise money for a charity?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B6

Hummus and chocolate together? Deliciously so!

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Easy slow cooker chili that lives up to the hype

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Roasted beets can brighten up any holiday table

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A5

 
Argentina demands ‘Top Gear’ apology from BBC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

‘S.H.I.E.L.D’ fans push for Coulson/May romance

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
From Kors to DVF, fashion mourns de la Renta

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

.

Sports

Bruins hold off Sharks to win 5-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Local report: Vikings earn 3-0 SCAC volleyball win over Wolves

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

SJS releases season’s first wins list

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Bumgarner, Giants stop Royals 7-1 in Series opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

49ers lose center Daniel Kilgore, needs surgery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Raiders plagued by 3rd-down defensive woes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

For a young Mexican golf star, seeing helps him believe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Shaw shoulders blame for Stanford’s slide

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Newman dodges penalty for Talladega inspection

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Logano: No worries about retaliation from Patrick

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Cowboys release Michael Sam from practice squad

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Fighters suing Mayweather over Vegas cable TV bout

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

WS Game 2 starters Ventura, Peavy study in contrasts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Hats off! Royals get old-timey with tip o’ the hat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

KC, San Fran mayors announce World Series wager

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3, 4 Comments

 
Ezeli returns as Warriors beat Clippers 125-107

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Buster’s back: Posey tries to add 3rd Series ring

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
AP sources: Rice’s appeal hearing set for Nov. 5-6

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Kings GM: NHL should educate after Voynov’s arrest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Broncos are still No. 1 in AP Pro32 rankings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

‘Blade Runner’ Pistorius gets 5 years in prison

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Google’s streaming music service adds mood to mix

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
5 problems McDonald’s is facing in the US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

New efforts to ban tobacco farm child labor

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Total CEO killed in Moscow runway crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

China economy grows at slowest pace in 5 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Obituaries

Rufina Ferrer Levengood

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6