Thursday, November 27, 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
  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Middle Green Valley plan moves forward

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1

     
    School district continues look into Armijo grade-change scandal

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Veterans ready to serve Thanksgiving dinner

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    New focus on achievement gap of black males

    By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

     
    Vacaville art gallery schedules open house

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

    What’s the matter with Kansas Street?

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Sandbags available in advance of storms

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Governments shut doors for holiday

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

     
    Fairfield police log: Nov. 25, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

    Suisun police log: Nov. 25, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

     
    Weather for Nov. 27, 2014

    By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

     
    .

    US / World

    Passengers in Russia’s Arctic give airliner a push

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Court: No warrant needed to draw parolees’ blood

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

    Armored vehicle nixed by Davis ends up in Woodland

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

     
    Homeless man beaten to death in San Francisco

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Obama administration sets stricter smog standard

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Obama gets the bill for White House Thanksgiving

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Heart stent for Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, 81

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Snow makes Thanksgiving travel ‘a little hairy’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Union focuses on security guards at Apple

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    American among hostages targeted in Yemen raid

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Sierra Leone official: Ebola may have reached peak

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Hong Kong police arrest key protesters, clear site

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Canada police arrest ex-radio host in sex case

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Impoverished Lebanese city is target for IS group

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Spy balloons give police new view of Jerusalem

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Prosecutor faces new criticism over Ferguson case

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

    Grand jury documents rife with inconsistencies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

     
    Small crowd protests in Oakland for third night

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

    Ferguson residents clean up, hope for calm night

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: Nov. 27, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Nov. 27, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Nursing homes full of opportunities for giving

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

     
    Horoscope for Nov. 27, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

    .

    Entertainment

    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Missing model-restaurateur B. Smith found in NYC

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

    Garth Brooks cites Ferguson for cancellation

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    University in Tennessee cancels Cosby appearance

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

    Tom Hanks, wife to host Christmas tree lighting

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    With shake-ups, AC/DC perseveres with album, tour

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

    875 hours of holiday programming on TV last year

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    .

    Sports

    All City football: Vikings sweep top honors

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Seahawks, 49ers meet for 1st time this season

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Panda heads put away with Sandoval’s departure

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    NFL might not flex any Sunday night games in 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    San Francisco’s bid for 2024 Olympics taking shape

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Spurs’ Popovich undergoes medical procedure

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    AP source: Tomas in process of deal with D’backs

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Harden leads Rockets past Kings 102-89

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Smith to start at QB for Jets vs. Dolphins on MNF

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Butler knocks off No. 5 North Carolina, 74-66

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    RG3 benched: Redskins to start Colt McCoy vs. Indy

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Raiders’ Woodson expects to play in 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Curry, 3s too much for Magic; Warriors win 111-96

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Sharks sign emergency backup goalie

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Atletico Madrid, Arsenal reach knockout phase

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

     
    .

    Business

    FBI data show thousands of gun sales beat checks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    US new home sales up 0.7 percent in October

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    US agency threatens to act against air bag maker

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Twitter now tracks other apps you’ve installed

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    Health insurance sign-ups coming to shopping malls

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Esther Ringler

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Dora Maria Aranda

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

    Adrian Looy

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Holiday Gift Guide 2014

    Why millennials prefer electronic gift cards

    By The Washington Post | From Page: HGG2

    How to give holiday gift cards

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG2

    How to establish gift spending limits

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG3

    Teen gifts: ideas for hard-to-buy-for big kids

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG3

    Novice crafter? There’s a project for that!

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG6

    Gift ideas for the special seniors in your life

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG6

    Time and money-saving holiday gift ideas

    By Statepoint Media | From Page: HGG7

    Oy vey, holidays! Does Hanukkah wannabe Christmas?

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG7

    How to save on high-tech gifts

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG10

    Shop top finalists for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG11

    Sharing music: a personal gift made easy by tech

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG12

    Great gifts for music lovers

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG13

    Kitchen gift-giving made easy with personality profiles

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG14

    Great gifts for the family foodie

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG14

    Holiday shows abound in Solano County

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: HGG17

    Great gifts for people who love to read

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG19

    An oft-elusive yet gifty treat: coffee table books

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG19

    Steps to take before giving pets as gifts

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

    2014 holiday toy predictions

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

    Eco-friendly gift ideas for ‘green’ giving

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

    Things to consider before buying this holiday season

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

    Trend-setting gifts for the women on your holiday shopping list

    By Brandpoint Content | From Page: HGG23

    Gifts to keep kids engaged

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG25

    Gift wrap tricks to save time

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG26

    Save time and energy with a family gift this holiday season

    By Brandpoint Content | From Page: HGG27

    Gift exchange dos and don’ts

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG30

    Right at Home: gifts you can use – and use up

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG30

    How to send gifts to faraway friends and family

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG30