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Cancer Center Director embarks on 500-mile pilgrimage to support patients

April 1, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Dava Gerard, MD, Administrative Director of the Presbyterian Cancer Center, will join thousands of pilgrims in May when she walks the 500-mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route through France and Spain.  The route, known as the “Buen Camino,” will take Dr. Gerard many miles away but New Mexico cancer patients will remain at the forefront of her journey.

In honor of the difficult journey faced by cancer patients every day, Dr. Gerard is raising money for the Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation’s Cancer Patient Assistance Fund. The fund provides transportation and lodging assistance to financially challenged patients. More than 20 percent of Presbyterian cancer patients travel more than 50 miles each way for treatment, adding to the burdens of life with cancer.

“By taking this journey, I hope to make the journey for our patients easier,” said Dr. Gerard.

In keeping with the pilgrimage tradition of carrying a stone from home and leaving it along the Buen Camino, members of the public may purchase a stone to have it inscribed and placed by Dr. Gerard along her route. Stones can be engraved with three letters for $25 or five letters for $50 (perhaps in honor of a loved one with cancer or to celebrate a life or birthday).

To download a donation form, members of the public can visit or call 505-724-6580. Tax-deductible donations can also be made by visiting and entering “Buen Camino” in the Other line.  All proceeds benefit the Cancer Patient Assistance Fund.

About the Cancer Patient Assistance Fund:

  • Twenty percent of new cancer patients at Presbyterian travel more than 50 miles each way for cancer treatment.
  • Thirteen percent of new cancer patients at Presbyterian travel more than 100 miles each way for cancer treatment and over half of these patients earn less than $28,000 per year.
  • In 2013, Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation provided more than $32,000 to help 142 cancer patients with transportation and lodging.

To follow Dava on her journey with live blogs visit her Facebook page at


About Presbyterian Healthcare Services
Presbyterian Healthcare Services exists to improve the health of patients, members and the communities we serve. Presbyterian was founded in New Mexico in 1908, and is the state’s only private, not-for-profit healthcare system. Presbyterian has eight hospitals, a statewide health plan, and a growing multi-specialty medical group. Presbyterian is the second largest private employer in New Mexico with more than 9,600 employees. 

Media Inquiries:

Amanda Schoenberg
Communication Specialist
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