At 51, Helen Garcia –a married, working mom of six grown children — finds herself facing the health challenge of her life.
A Grafton, N.D., native who moved to East Grand Forks in 1989, Helen discovered a lump in her left breast during a routine breast exam early this year. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her tumor was rated stage 2 (larger than 2 centimeters but smaller than 5 cm), grade 3 (distinct-looking, faster growing cancer cells).
Since her diagnosis, Helen typically has traveled every three weeks for chemotherapy treatments at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America facility in Zion, Ill.
The effects of her ongoing treatments cause her to feel tired and nauseous, sometimes leaving her unable to work at her job building wind turbine blades from fiberglass at LM Wind Power. Still, her faith, positive attitude and strong support from family buoy her outlook on her cancer fight.
The former Helen Martinez, who is from a Grafton, N.D., family with 13 children, married Juan DeDios Garcia when she was 17. A year later, Helen gave birth to their only daughter, Michelle; five boys – Juan DeDios II, Pablo, Adan, Abraham and Noah — followed. The Garcias moved to East Grand Forks in 1989, the year Abraham was born; the youngest, Noah, arrived two years later.
Helen is known to many people from her time employed at East Grand Forks Head Start, where she was a bilingual paraprofessional, and MasterCuts. She graduated 20 years ago from the Hair Designers Academy in Grand Forks and received her license in cosmetology, but changed her profession after being diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Because of mounting medical bills, the Garcias are in need of assistance.
Family members and friends have organized a free-will offering spaghetti dinner and accompanying silent auction, set for 4 to 7 p.m. Sept. 8 at Southgate Casino Bar & Grill, 2525 S. Washington St., Grand Forks. NDAD is a fundraiser sponsor.
You also can help the Garcias by mailing a donation to NDAD, 2660 S. Columbia Road, Grand Forks, ND 58201. Or, donate to the Garcias online at http://www.NDAD.org/fundraisers.asp .
All proceeds will help offset Helen’s medical expenses and the family’s essential day-to-day expenses.
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