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Published on February 04, 2010

Legislators thank doctors for their lives

Sen. Heath and Reps. Primavera and Merrifield honor CU Anschutz Medical Campus

DENVER –  It’s the day these three will never forget. The day that was followed by doctors’ visits, surgeries, painful treatments, and a new perspective on life:

  • On September 21, 1988: Rep. Dianne Primavera received the news from her doctor that she had breast cancer
  • January 3, 2007, his birthday: Rep. Michael Merrifield received the news from his doctor that he has throat and neck cancer
  • July, 2009: Senator Rollie Heath received the news from his doctor that he has esophageal cancer

UCH gastroenterologist Norio Fukami, MD, with Senator Rollie Heath
and his daughter and wife.

January, 2010 these legislators are doing well. They are happy, healthy, and grateful for the exceptional medical care they received at Colorado hospitals.

That is why Senator Rollie Heath (D-Boulder), Rep. Dianne Primavera (D- Broomfield), and Rep. Mike Merrifield (D-Colorado Springs) honored the CU Anschutz Medical Campus today with a Joint Resolution.

Legislators' Personal Stories

“I have experienced, on a very personal level, the quality of our doctors, nurses and researchers who are a part of the facilities represented by the Anschutz Cancer Center and the University hospital,” said Sen. Heath.  “I can attest to the value of these institutions in cancer research and their role in leading cancer research nationwide.  I also wanted to highlight their seriously positive impact on Colorado’s economy.”

In July, Senator Rollie Heath’s doctor, Dr. Robert Levine of the Boulder Medical Center, discovered a tumor and immediately referred him to Dr. Norio Fukami of the Anschutz Medical Campus at University of Colorado Hospital.  Sen. Heath underwent surgery performed by Dr. Fukami, who is one of two or three doctors in the country who perform this procedure.

This morning, Senator Heath thanked Dr. Fukami: “You’re my hero. Thank you very much.”

Rep. Primavera said, "It was a grim day when I received the knee-buckling prognosis that I would not live five years. I was determined to find an oncologist who could save my life.  Thankfully, my search led me to Dr. Bill Robinson at the University of Colorado Hospital.  I am here today because of his caring and expertise."  Yesterday, Dianne celebrated her 60th birthday, starting the day, as she often does, with sunrise boot camp and ending the evening with ballroom dancing.

Rep. Michael Merrifield, who missed only two days of the legislative session while he went through chemotherapy said, “All the treatments I received and all the people who worked with me at UCHSC were not only professional and the best in the field, they were also compassionate caring, concerned... truly, they became my second family.”  Michael is an avid bicyclist, and this summer he biked several long-distance events. 

SJR 9 Highlights Anschutz Medical Center Contributions

Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 9 highlights the medical center’s contributions to cancer research, prevention, and care. “With the School of Medicine’s nationally prominent and innovative programs treating cancer, diabetes, heart and lung disease, mental health and obesity, citizens of Colorado do not have to leave the state to get the best and most innovative health care.”

The resolution goes on to state: “School of Medicine researchers have a proven record of success and expertise in innovation, discovery and commercialization of therapies, drugs, and medical devices. They are translating basic sciences into medical breakthroughs that are helping people in Colorado and around the world. They were the first to develop a classification and numbering system for human chromosomes, the first to identify a genetic factor that converts normal cells into cancer cells and the first to learn how a human cancer gene functions.”

The resolution also remarks on its impact on Colorado’s economy.  According to the resolution, “for every $1 the state invests in the Anschutz Medical Campus, the campus puts $30 back into the state economy... (and) for every $1 million that the Anschutz Medical Campus receives in research funding, it translates into 32 high paying jobs in the community.”

This January 29, 2010 press release is from the Colorado State Senate.

Abigail Vacanti, (303) 866-4882 or
Jack Wylie, (303) 866-3005 or


For More Information Contact:

Erika Matich