HOUSTON – For 45-year-old wife and mother Aurora Garcia, wearing pink in October is more than just raising awareness. For Garcia, it’s about educating others on the importance of breast cancer, encouraging women to do their annual mammograms, check-ups and understanding their bodies.
“From the beginning, I’ve always been on my friends, ‘Hey don’t miss your annual mammogram,'” said Garcia. “My sister and my friends know that I’m that bugging friend.”
This is something she’s been advocating since 2011 when she met Jerry Garcia.
Married for nearly a decade, Aurora and Jerry both remarried in 2011. They met a year after Jerry’s first wife Ana lost her battle to breast cancer.
In 2005, Ana was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, which was at that time a really rare form of breast cancer and very aggressive.
“The Rose was very instrumental in her diagnosis and her journey," stated Aurora Garcia. "She was uninsured, and they just helped her from the beginning.”
Founded in 1986, The Rose is a non-profit which has provided early detection mammography screenings, diagnosis, treatment and a continuum of care for all women throughout 41 counties in Southeast Texas.
Jerry Garcia and his family were very involved with the organization, helping to fundraise and raise awareness of breast cancer.
However, the Garcias never thought cancer would affect them again until Aurora was diagnosed in May 2019.
“Not that I never thought that I could get any cancer, I just never thought I could get breast cancer because I thought that I was very well informed,” recalled Aurora Garcia. “I was diagnosed, and it kind of turned my life upside down.”
Prior to being diagnosed, she routinely had mammograms and screenings at The Rose.
“I had been going to The Rose for a long time. I’m very blessed to be insured and I just felt that if I could take my services there, my insurance could help an uninsured woman.”
One of The Rose’s programs is the Empower Her Sponsorship Program, supporting uninsured women, ensuring that any woman has access to breast cancer screening, diagnosis and care despite their ability to pay.
Over the years Aurora Garcia and her family have participated in an annual fundraiser called “30 for Ana,” raising funds in honor of her husband’s first wife, Ana.
“We have raised over 200,000 dollars in the last 10 to 11 years,” said Aurora Garcia. “We do as much as we can to raise funds and help The Rose, in whatever way we can.”
Raising funds and awareness was something Aurora felt like she needed to do since The Rose was instrumental in her diagnosis and treatment.
Since her diagnosis, Aurora has completed her chemo bilateral mastectomy radiation, hysterectomy, and had her first reconstruction surgery.
Today the breast cancer survivor and her family continue to advocate for The Rose and overall women’s health. Aurora reminds women about their annual mammograms and the amount of support available.
“Your chances of survival are just much greater than they were years ago, but early detection is key,” said Aurora Garcia. “I am a strong believer that God is by my side, every step of the way, and he gets me through it.”
Aurora Garcia is supported by her many friends and family members, which she refers to as “Aurora’s Army.”
“I try to always have a face on and, just as tough as it is, you have to get out there, and you have to be positive. And so, you know, you just take one day at a time.”
To learn more about The Rose, visit its website here.
More Voices of Houston