Steamboat Springs woman’s leukemia diagnosis brings co-workers, community together
February 13, 2013
Steamboat Springs — Editor’s note: This story was updated to list the correct date Lesley Chambers will be admitted to Presbyterian St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver
For 31-year-old Lesley Chambers, a leukemia diagnosis came as a complete shock.
A week before receiving the grim news Sept. 28, Chambers was on top of the world and in seemingly perfect health as she summited the 12,059-foot Big Agnes peak in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area north of Steamboat Springs.
Her experience with hospitals had been limited to the occasional broken bone. Five rounds of chemotherapy later, Chambers essentially has been in a hospital for the past four months, said her boyfriend, David Randles.
Randles and Chambers moved to Steamboat in October 2011 so Chambers could pursue her dream job as a designer and product developer with Big Agnes, the Steamboat-based tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad manufacturer. Her co-workers and employer have been extremely supportive throughout the ordeal, said Melissa Minter, who works with Chambers and is helping organize an indoor cornhole tournament fundraiser for her this weekend.
"We really can't wait for her to come back," Minter said.
Aside from the cards, presents and meals, employees have donated their vacation days to Chambers, which then were matched by the company. While Chambers was going through chemotherapy, some of her co-workers shaved their heads in a symbol of support — and proved it to Chambers with a video.
"I think she got a laugh out of that," Minter said.
The cornhole tournament is Sunday at Olympian Hall. Doors open at 1 p.m. and the tournament begins at 2 p.m.
"Who doesn't like playing cornhole on a Sunday?" asked Laura Cusenbary, one of the fundraiser’s organizers.
Registration costs $50 for each two-person team. Registration is capped at 50 teams and will be accepted through Friday at BAP, 735 Oak St.
Big Agnes tents, sleeping bags, pads, Honey Stinger products and skis are among the prizes that will be given away at the fundraiser. Food and drinks will be available for purchase. All proceeds will go directly to Chambers. People with questions can call Cusenbary at 970-846-6247.
"A big thank you to the Steamboat group and everyone that has helped us out," Randles said.
Moods were boosted this week on the eve of the fundraiser when Chambers received some good news. She will be admitted to Presbyterian St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver on Feb. 21 to begin the process of receiving a bone marrow transplant. Randles said the actual transplant will take place eight days into treatment.
"They call that your new birthday," Randles said. "It's a new immune system. It's new DNA."
When reached by telephone Wednesday, Chambers said she had been working toward the transplant for four months, and it comes with excitement, anxiety and relief.
"I probably had the best night of sleep last night that I've had in a while," Chambers said.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com