It's July 10. Cookie Lockhart is on the operating table in Tulsa, Okla., to have a 3.3-centimeter tumor removed from her right breast. Just before being anesthetized, she asked the doctors if they knew what breasts and martinis had in common. "One's not enough, and three is too many," she replied.
She laughs hysterically after telling the joke. But almost everything the 65-year-old auctioneer says is funny, so she laughs a lot. They say laughter is the best medicine, and in her case, they are probably right.
Lockhart says she feels wonderful, and to keep that feeling, she says she has to keep stress to a minimum.
Doctors told her she needed to move to lower elevations in light of her emphysema, asthma and cancer, but she continues to call Routt County home.
"They're not going to get rid of me," Lockhart said defiantly. "Hell, I've got my home paid for, so Steamboat Springs will always be my home."
But, Lockhart doesn't spend all her time here. She lives where the auction is, traveling all over the country, speaking 100 miles per hour to sell, sell, sell. She also lives part of the year in Fountain Hills, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix, and she has been spending a lot of time recently at the Cancer Treatment Center of America in Tulsa, one of the world's cutting-edge facilities for cancer treatment.
There, Lockhart recently went through the first of several chemotherapy visits. Her hair has since fallen out, which she cleverly disguised Saturday with a scarf under her trademark cowboy hat.
"I've got bigger things to worry about than my hair," Lockhart said. "There are a lot of people out there sicker than I am."
Lockhart also has been treated with the latest in cancer treatment technology -- a new process called Brachytherapy. Brachytherapy involves injecting stems in or near a tumor, giving a high radiation dose to the tumor while reducing the radiation exposure in the surrounding healthy tissues, according to www.brachytherapy.com.
In Lockhart's case, her tumor already had been removed, but the Brachytherapy killed any cancerous cells that remained after the surgery, she said.
Despite the health problems, Cookie doesn't crumble. She continues her auctioning and real estate business. In a two-year period four years ago, she sold 197 properties in 17 states. Also last year, she was inducted into the Auctioneers Hall of Fame.
Perhaps the reason she is successful, is because she is honest.
"We've got a box over here full of things you don't need," Lockhart said with a big chuckle at the Brunner Ranch auction Saturday. "You could hang the stuff on the wall, if you want."
The Cancer Treatment Center in Tulsa had an auction this summer, and guess who was the auctioneer? A thank you letter from the center's chairman read:
"Dear Cookie, You were fabulous, simply fabulous! Captivating, fun, frolicsome, and an absolute delight, and obviously very effective and successful as our auctioneer. ... We can't wait to see you again soon."
Lockhart's daughter and auctioneer partner, Jo Lockhart, said she and Cookie were at an auction earlier this year in Telluride, where people kept bidding higher because "it was so much fun."
Cookie learned to make light of any situation in auctioneer school, where she was the only woman in her class of 126. It was there that she also built on her intuition.
"The best treatment for cancer is to understand what's going on with yourself," Jo Lockhart said. "A lot of our language in our job is high strung, but she's very intelligent, and she has figured out how to keep going. She figured it out quick."
For Cookie to stay healthy, she has had to cut sugar from her diet. Thankfully, though, the Cancer Treatment Center has a recipe for sugarless cookies, because "Cookie likes cookies," she said.
Lockhart also must avoid stress, but, as Jo said, steering clear of it is not the easiest thing for an auctioneer whose heart must pump vigorously to keep up with the hard-working vocal chords.
"She ain't staying calm really," Jo Lockhart said. "She's fired up like a firecracker."
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