Family throws fundraiser for sibling fighting cancer
July 30, 2011 at 2:30 a.m.
Updated July 31, 2011 at 2:31 a.m.
Elaine Cortez Garza survived three bouts of cancer. And in April, she was diagnosed with thyroid and lung cancer. With sheer determination, she still goes to work as a housekeeper and learns the latest hip-hop dance moves.
"I'm living the fullest," she said. "God knows my time, not the doctors."
Medical experts told her she had two years to live with chemotherapy, but she's refusing treatment.
"I've been through it before. I didn't like the effect of it."
She said that she values quality of life over quantity.
The 54-year-old great-grandmother has been using alternative medicine - a Brazilian tea and drops in the comfort of her Corpus Christi home.
She said her health improved with natural remedies. The tumor in her throat used to be sensitive to the touch, she also had no voice. Now, she can sing her favorite Motown golden oldies.
Saturday afternoon, she came to Victoria to attend a fundraiser in her honor. Family and friends wanted to help her with expenses.
The Golden Gecko served as host to Cortez Garza's loved ones, who reminsced about happy times.
Within three weeks, the family received donations for the venue, food and live entertainment.
Michelle Redden, Cortez Garza's niece, said some volunteers have delivered 200 plates to local businesses.
"We're reaching out to anyone who wants to help. There is no minimum," Redden said.
Cortez Garza, the mother of three, said she's just grateful for the company of family and friends.
Her middle son, Chris Garza, sat right by her side. "She's in such great spirits, I forget sometimes she is ill," he said.
A three-time cancer survivor, Cortez Garza learned to deal with terminal illness over time. She went into shock when she received her first diagnosis of uterine cancer at age 29.
"I thought I was going to die at that moment," she said.
Now, the grandmother of seven, values life much more. She's learned to hug loved ones a little tighter, and laugh a while longer.
Before the fundraiser, the Stroman High School graduate visited her alma mater and said, "The 70s ... those were the good ol' days."
Cortez Garza's smiles as she talks about her past, but she beams when speaking about her future.
She's confident she will see her next birthday on Groundhog Day, because of her unwavering faith.
"He (God) will cure me one day. I know he will."