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The Hope Lives! organization was founded in 2001 by breast cancer survivor, Lydia Dody, a Ft. Collins businesswoman.  Today, Hope Lives! continues to offer free, supportive services & products to breast cancer patients in active treatment in Larimer and Weld Counties. 

Board of Directors
PHOTOS Courtesy of Julie Ulstrup Photography

Lydia Dody, Founder & Board Member

Starting a new organization was my creative vision but making it a reality took a village. 


While fighting an arduous battle with breast cancer in 2001, my experiences and struggles during treatment led me to reach out to many complementary care providers to ease my Chemotherapy side effects and help me endure my treatments physically, psychologically and emotionally. These services improved my recovery and quality of life so much that it moved me to start The Lydia Dody Breast Cancer Foundation non-profit to help other women in treatment. 

My mission was to support and strengthen those affected by breast cancer by providing care, guidance and education. We serve as a partner as they heal in mind, body and spirit.

The organization started providing services in January 2002 and since then Hope Lives! has provided services and improved the lives of thousands of women. The name has changed to Hope Lives! The Lydia Dody Breast Cancer Support Center to better describe who we are now. 


The need for services continues as statistically 400 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Weld and Larimer Counties each year.  According to Lydia, “We want to provide free post diagnosis services to all women in northern Colorado. We are committed to continuing our important work with the supportive help of our professional providers, generous donors, committed board members, staff and volunteers.”

Koepsell Profile Pic.jpg

Mark Koepsell, Board President

Mark is the owner/operator of Xanadu Med Spa in Fort Collins which he purchased in 2015.  He takes great pride in managing a team that is client focused with phenomenal results.  Prior to that, Mark was the CEO of a non-profit management company with offices in Fort Collins and St. Paul, MN.  He and his staff provided overall leadership, board, financial, marketing, and event management for 18 different national and regional non-profit organizations. 


Mark began his career in Higher Education.  It was a position at Colorado State University that brought him to Fort Collins from Saint Louis University in Missouri.  Mark received his bachelor's degree at Carroll University in Wisconsin and a master's degree in educational psychology and counseling from Eastern Illinois University.  He is the father to two beautiful college aged daughters. 


Mark says, “I am proud to have this opportunity to serve on the Hope Lives Board of Directors.  I am inspired to do this work on behalf of the important women in my life.  Hope Lives! plays such an important role in our community and I am pleased to be able to play a small part in its success!”

Melissa Venable, Vice President


Melissa Venable is a Fort Collins nonprofit executive and community leader who currently serves as board vice-president of Hope Lives!


Melissa is also a published author and certified Life Coach. She resides in Fort Collins with her husband and is mother to two young-adult sons. Melissa served as the Executive Director of Hope Lives from 2010-2015 and is still passionate about the vital mission of the organization.


Melissa says, “No one battling cancer should have to face that battle alone. Hope Lives is here to make sure that breast cancer patients in Larimer & Weld counties receive the tangible support and  guidance that they need as they navigate their recovery.”


Jill Rickards, Board Member

Jill Rickards is deeply rooted in our local Fort Collins community for 40 years and now serves as a board member for Hope Lives!. Jill has continually owned and operated an accounting practice where she has provided accounting, management and tax services to non-profits.


Jill has served on numerous non-profit boards in the community and understands the unique challenges nonprofits face each day.  Hope Lives! truly CARES about the people they serve and provides amazing support for a healing environment. 


Jill says, “It is my pleasure and privilege to be on the board.”

Exciting Changes to the Hope Lives! Board and Staff

Hope Lives! The Lydia Dody Breast Cancer Support Center is excited to announce recent changes to the organization that will position Hope Lives! for growth and success in 2023.  


Hope Lives! was founded in 2001 by local Fort Collins businesswoman and breast cancer survivor, Lydia Dody, after she experienced the benefits of complementary care support during her treatment.  Since its founding, Hope Lives! has offered complementary care products and services free of charge to local patients undergoing treatment for breast cancer.


Hope Lives! is pleased to announce we are expanding our services into Weld County and look forward to now supporting patients in both Larimer and Weld counties. Our services are also extended to Wyoming residents that are receiving treatment in Larimer or Weld counties. 

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