CCA celebrates life of guard who lost breast cancer battle

No shortage of kind words and admiration were delivered last week on behalf of a beloved resident lost to breast cancer.

Christy Wood, 35, was remembered Friday as a loving wife and mother who was dedicated to her career as a detention officer at Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) in Pahrump.

Wood lost a valiant three-year fight and died last Monday. Her next birthday was almost here.

CCA Warden Charlotte Collins said officials held a barbecue fundraiser last week to support Wood’s family.

“We had employees and other locals making donations and everything was provided by our staff to raise money and help Christy’s family,” she said.

CCA Public Information Officer Paul Miller said both Wood and her husband were employed at the detention facility and aside from the devastating loss, the family is now left to rely on one income to pay bills.

“There were two people earning a living and now it’s just the husband. Christy leaves behind four children. She was a grandmother. She has been with us since we opened the facility in October of 2010. She was a personal friend of mine and when she was at work I talked to her regularly. It hit me dearly last Monday when she passed away. We have to deal with it and try to do the best we can for her family,” he said.

Miller said there was a period of time where it appeared Wood had won her fight after regular visits to the hospital for treatment.

“We really thought that she had recovered and she came back to work after she had fought breast cancer. We figured that she was doing much better, but apparently it didn’t go the way the treatment needed it to go. She did return to work for a short period of time,” he said.

Collins, meanwhile, said she too, became more than just co-workers with Wood, especially after the cancer was first detected.

“I’ve been here for over a year and when I first arrived she had just been diagnosed and was going through the battle. She had her ups and downs, but the ups were always up and you were never able to tell she was down. She was always smiling and motivated and she never allowed you the opportunity to feel sorry for her. I’m very appreciative to have met her and had her in my life as a person. Everyone loved Christy because of her ongoing positive attitude on everything. She made friends wherever she went,” Collins said.

The warden said Wood’s death held even more special meaning since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and many officials were attending an event in Las Vegas just a day before Wood’s passing.

“A lot of the staff members on Saturday had gone to Las Vegas for a walk for breast cancer in honor of Christy and breast cancer awareness month. Her birthday was on the 13th and she would have been 36. It’s just one of those things and we just have to continue to fight for her and hope that we all can bring each other up with strength,” she said.

Miller said he too has participated in Relay For Life events for the past several years.

He noted that Wood’s supporters formed an organization while she was undergoing treatment.

“They made a sign called ‘Christy’s Fight Club’ and she had one heck of a club fighting for her. It was something that the other detention officers and administrative staff wanted to do to support her. We saw a real good turnout from the community and I would really like to thank the community for what they have done,” he said.

Local resident and television news anchor Deanna O’Donnell said Wood was a big sports fan and wanted to see her son Devin play football recently at Pahrump Valley High School last week.

“Christy really so wished that she could attend her son’s last home game on Oct. 10, but her doctors said that was going to be hard because of her condition. KPVM Television in Pahrump planned to record the game and send it for her to watch. We still plan to record that game for the family and a portion of it will be aired during the newscast on Friday. We also showed a picture of Christy and included a moment of silence at the end of that newscast,” she said.

As a daughter growing up in a military family, Wood did quite a bit of traveling and lived in the Midwest, New Mexico Texas and California.

As a 1996 high school graduate, Wood participated in track and field and was selected by her classmates to be homecoming queen at Mojave High School in Mojave, Calif.

She was employed by Corrections Corporation of America, at the California City Corrections Center and then transferred to CCA’s Nevada Southern Detention Center.

Miller said Wood was the second detention officer at CCA who passed away.

A fatal accident in the parking lot of the Pahrump Nugget last year claimed the life of Lt. Alejandro Gomez, 42.

“We will have another memorial again this year and we’ll plant another tree out at the front entrance as well to remind people of Christy,” he said.