66 Diner helps KOB 4 Pay it 4ward to Lovelace Hospital's Breast Care Center team | KOB 4

66 Diner helps KOB 4 Pay it 4ward to Lovelace Hospital's Breast Care Center team

Casey Torres
Updated: October 14, 2020 02:14 PM
Created: October 12, 2020 10:25 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — 66 Diner helped KOB 4 Pay it 4ward to the Breast Care Center team at the Lovelace Women’s Hospital.

The center is made up of two groups that help with screening, radiology and surgery for patients with breast cancer.

“Everybody is in here because we want to be in here and because we are happy to be in this area of our lives and our work,” said Valerie Kneifl, a team member and breast cancer survivor.

She said it’s not an easy job.

“Lots of hours, lots of heart aches—good with the bad,” she said.

But the team still continues to go to work day-after-day back because of the good days.

“It’s a rewarding feeling, to be able to touch and be a part of their experience and their battle they’re going through,” she said.

To give the warriors for survivors fuel to help others, 66 Diner on Central prepared more than a dozen of its “66” burgers with cookie for dessert.

The restaurant knows a thing or two about survival as well.

The owner, Tom Willis, said he opened up the diner in 1987, but a fire burned it down in 1995.

“There was a giant hole in the roof, and everything else was either underwater, or melted or under ash or whatever,” he said.

Rebuilding was tough, but after a few months, the diner was back and better than before.

Now the diner is having hard times again amid the pandemic, but Willis hopes they will get through this hardship as well.

“The 66 Diner has been a survivor,” he said.

Back at the hospital, doctors and nurses enjoyed the burgers, but quickly returned to work. 

That work might not slow down until there’s a cure.

Dr. Tim Erwin said nearly 300,000 women in the country are expect to be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year. He said early detection like mammograms, ultrasounds and self checks, can be life-saving.

Kneifl caught her cancer on time with a self exam more than 20 years ago.

“It was very hard. I was young, so I wasn’t even supposed to have breast cancer. I haven’t even had our first mammogram, so it was a shock,” said Kneifl.

She said it was a long road, but received all her treatment at Lovelace. Now, she shares a special connection with the patients and helps them through their battle.

“I, as an example, can tell you that you can beat this,” she said.

Even during the pandemic, Dr. Erwin said people are encouraged to stop by the hospital to receive screenings.

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