Under the theme of “Hope Begins Here,” the Fox Family Foundation announced that it is making a $25 million gift to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso to help launch the Steve and Nancy Fox Cancer Center, the first comprehensive cancer center in West Texas.
Steve Fox, CEO of Fox Auto Team, made the announcement flanked by Nancy, his wife of 39 years, and immediate family before a crowd of more than 200 people in the university’s Medical Sciences Building II auditorium.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death among U.S. Hispanics, but El Paso County, which is 83 percent Hispanic, is the state’s only urban area without a comprehensive cancer center. Health care officials believe that the Fox Cancer Center will provide the necessary equitable and personalized patient care that will improve patient outcomes.
The gift will go toward research, treatment, clinical trials, cancer imaging, outreach programs and the recruitment of a world-class staff.
“We have to now recruit the finest group of doctors in the country,” said Fox, who survived stage 4 tongue and throat cancer. “We got to bring the best researchers, the best nurses. We got to build a team of superstars. If I can help in that process, I’m gonna help.”
Fox, 70, said that discussions about the transformational gift began in earnest about two years ago and that his family committed to it this past spring, but they kept it confidential. Among those who knew were members of the El Paso legislative delegation who were able to use that information to lobby other legislators who approved $65 million to plan and build an outpatient cancer treatment center in El Paso during its recent session.
Dr. Richard Lange, president of the TTUHSCEP, said the funds from the Legislature will go toward the physical building on the existing campus, and the Fox Foundation gift will allow the center to provide access to specialists and cutting-edge therapies that are not available now. He said work already has started on the Fox Cancer Center’s design, and he said it could open as early as 2025.
“It will literally change health care in El Paso and the region,” Lange said.
Jacob Cintron, CEO of University Medical Center, was among the audience members that included numerous elected officials from the state, city and county levels, as well as leaders in the business and health care fields. He said the foundation’s gift along with the Legislature’s funding were amazing first steps.
Cintron said one of the important aspects for him was that cancer patients, especially those with modest means, would have an option to stay home for their treatment.
“Our goal is that over the next few years to make it a comprehensive cancer center that’s going to be focused not only on care, but on research, which our community deserves,” Cintron said.
Lange, Fox and others echoed Cintron’s comment about the additional benefit of a local cancer treatment center where patients can stay home near supportive family and friends as they receive “world-class care” during that vulnerable time.
Fox, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2000, said that he made frequent trips to Houston’s MD Anderson during his cancer fight. He said those trips were stressful and exhausting, so he understands the benefit of being able to receive treatments in your hometown. He said that people who can stick to their comfortable routines are better off mentally and physically to tackle cancer.
The self-described “used car salesman,” whose three dealerships achieved $260 million in sales in 2021, said that the origins of his foundation’s gift started when he was in Houston under a fiberglass mask bolted to a table for a radiation treatment. At that moment, he began to negotiate with God. He promised that in return for his health, he would spend the rest of his life helping other cancer patients.
“I’m pleased to tell you that the good Lord spared me, and I’m living up to my commitment,” Fox said.
The Fox foundation’s gift tied for the second largest in TTUHSCEP’s 10-year history. Woody L. Hunt gave $25 million in 2016 to start the Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine. The largest gift was $50 million from Paul L. Foster in 2007 to launch the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine. Hunt and Foster are El Paso-based businessmen and philanthropists.