Rebecca L. Calderon, PhD was in the prime of her life in March 2007. She was at the height of her career with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and had dedicated many years to environmental research and making this planet a healthier place to live. She was also very busy raising three beautiful children, Lea, David and Klara and enjoying life with her husband of 21 years, Doug Guthe.
She and her family were surprised and devastated to learn she had lung cancer. She was only 51, never a smoker, and in good physical condition. How could this happen?
Shortly after diagnosis, Rebecca began aggressive treatment at UNC Lineberger. Doug says that the nurses and doctors took great care of Rebecca - particularly the infusion nurses. They were concerned about her condition and went to great lengths to make sure she was comfortable.
After extensive surgery and multiple rounds of radiation and chemotherapy, Rebecca's battle with lung cancer came to a tragic end in December 2008. Memorial gifts in her honor came flooding into UNC Lineberger. The students at David's high school also got involved by hosting a Lap-A-Thon to benefit cancer research.
Doug embraced this support and established the Rebecca L. Calderon Endowment Fund for New Ideas in Lung Cancer Research. Doug says that "Rebecca was a mother, wife, daughter, sister and also a world recognized scientist … it is only fitting that we honor her memory by helping to fund new and innovative research into the causes and treatment of lung cancer, particularly in women who have never smoked."