Jewely Del Duca's Story

The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it. – C.C. Scott

Jewely Del Duca is the inspiration behind the Rocky Mountain Foundation of Hope.

Jewely, a 4th grade elementary school teacher in Littleton, Colorado, was diagnosed in early 2008 with stage 4 colon cancer. Doctors initially removed a 6 pound 18 centimeter ovarian tumor. It was suspected that this ovarian tumor was the result of cancer elsewhere in her abdomen.

6 weeks later, a colonoscopy revealed a malignant one inch tumor in Jewely’s colon. Her follow up surgery included the removal of this malignant tumor, the reconstruction of her colon as well as a full hysterectomy - all by the time she was 35 years old. Jewely’s oncologist felt that the Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (H.I.P.E.C.) surgery could very well be her cure. Unfortunately, Jewely’s insurance company did not want to pay for the H.I.P.E.C. surgery as they felt it was ‘experimental’. As Jewely said, “experimental depends on if you have cancer or not”. Jewely and her family went through 3 appeals with her insurance company hoping they would change their minds but, unfortunately, they never did.

Though devastated, confused, and frustrated, Jewely has never stopped her incredible fight against cancer. Throughout her initial diagnosis, multiple surgeries, and a year of chemotherapy, Jewely has made a decision to teach every day that she is not in the hospital undergoing treatment. Though there have been days when Jewely would prefer to simply pull the covers over her head and shut out the world, she makes the decision to go to work making a difference in the lives of her students as well as everyone around her.

Jewley is making the decision to live her life to the absolute fullest. Unintentionally, she is also teaching her students everyday lessons not found in textbooks. She’s teaching them about empathy, courage, compassion and the will to keep on fighting. She is absolutely incredible and an inspiration to everyone who is fortunate enough to meet her.

From the onset of her diagnosis, Jewely was embraced by her students, their families and her entire community. Jewely’s elementary school came together in the Spring of 2008 to raise funds for her and her treatment. The ‘Jewel of the Night’ fundraiser brought students, parents as well as complete strangers together for a night of both financial and emotional support. Funds were raised through various bake sales, book sales, candle sales, etc followed by a fun family movie on the school lawn. Students were seen dumping the contents of their piggy banks into the donation boxes. The night was indescribable and inspiring.

In addition to other fundraisers throughout the community, the first annual ‘Jewel of a Day’ Golf Tournament was held in September 2008 at the Pinery Country Club in Parker, Colorado. With 151 golfers, sponsors, silent auction donations as well as monetary donations, additional funds were raised to help pay for Jewely’s treatment.

Jewely’s story received local and national media coverage. The emotional and financial support instantly poured in from all over this incredible country. Jewely and her family were blown away by the support and overwhelming generosity. Jewely’s sister-in-law, Shannon Cox, has received countless calls and emails from cancer patients all over the country facing similar roadblocks as Jewely and their battles against cancer.

Due to Jewely’s incredible will to survive and the overwhelming need of others in this country, the Rocky Mountain Foundation of Hope (RMH) was created. It is the vision and dream of RMH to help other cancer patients facing similar situations as Jewely Del Duca.