Helpful Benefit, Encouraging Cancer News Buoy EGF’s Helen Garcia

Even though she felt “quite worn out” following surgery in Illinois Sept. 6 to remove a cancerous lump from her left breast, Helen Garcia says these are decidedly “feel good” days for her.

A Sept. 8 benefit organized by work colleagues, friends and family to help the East Grand Forks, Minn., woman and Grafton, N.D., area native was a huge reason, she said.

Helen Garcia, in late August.
(Photo: Mike Brue, NDAD)

In addition to appreciating all the good will directed her way at the benefit, Garcia said she’s spent much of following week reviewing bills and past-due notices and working with benefit sponsor NDAD to begin paying them off using fundraiser money.

“It is such a good feeling,” said Garcia, who has been on family medical leave since early June to focus on her breast cancer fight. “Many thanks to all our caring family and friends.”

NDAD, through its Community Fundraisers program, is serving as custodian for funds raised to help Helen, who learned she had breast cancer in March.

The financial burden has been extra difficult on the Garcias, with husband Juan DeDios Garcia – a kidney transplant recipient nearly five years ago – having expenses for ongoing drugs needed not only to sustain his transplanted kidney but to deal with other health issues.

He has been unable to work for most of 2012, but his disability insurance claims were just approved for several summer months, and he received back pay last week, Helen said. “I think being unable to contribute financially weighed on him, because he seems so much happier” now, she said. “We bought groceries and much-needed supplies,” including blood glucose test strips that Juan needed to help monitor his recently diagnosed Type 2 diabetes.

Juan and Helen Garcia, in late August. (Photo: Mike Brue, NDAD)

As for Helen’s health, she is scheduled to return to Cancer Centers of America’s outpatient hospital and clinic in suburban Chicago later this month for a post-surgery follow-up. After the lumpectomy and months of chemotherapy, her medical team says she appears to be free of cancer. Garcia faces regular examinations and check-ups for the next several years to monitor her recovery.

Helen hopes to return to her job at LM Wind Power in Grand Forks either late this month or sometime in October, she said earlier.


NDAD’s Community Fundraiser program continues to work to help Helen Garcia. If you were unable to attend the benefit for Helen, you still may mail a donation to (or drop one off at): NDAD, c/c Helen Garcia Fundraiser, 2660 S. Columbia Road, Grand Forks, ND 58201. Online donation using a credit card also is an option; go to and look for the “Give Online” button next to Helen’s story and photo.

Check out other NDAD-sponsored fundraising efforts at the same webpage. They include a fundraiser Sunday for Dennis Ahoe, a Williston, N.D., man dealing with quadriplegia following a June 1 motorcycle crash.


This is a thank-you letter from Helen Garcia of East Grand Forks. Benefit coordinator Jodi Bernu read it at the Sept. 8 benefit for Garcia at Southgate Casino Bar & Grill in south Grand Forks:

“At this time, I am probably and most likely recovering from my surgery and hopefully smiling up at Dad because I have thus far kept my promise! Even though I know I still have a long road ahead of me, I feel that the worst is behind me and a new beginning is in my future.

[Note: Helen’s father, Felipe Martinez of Grafton, N.D., died in November 2010. Read about Helen’s promise to her father at <a href=”> NDAD’s Areavoices site</a>.]

“My new beginning begins with my hair. (lol)

“Seriously though, I would like to thank Mom and Dad for instilling in us FAITH! Faith in God! Thank you God for my life! I strongly believe this helped my fight with cancer because I never once doubted that I would not recover. It was and has always been in my mind that one day I would be back on track and living life as it was meant to be. This was just a bump in the road. Thank you Mom and Dad! I love you both!

“To my husband Juan; daughter and husband Michelle and Dana Smith; my son his wife and grandkids Juan II, Alicia, Juan III and Brooklyn; (and) sons Pablo, Adan, Abraham and Noah, thank you for all the love, support physically, mentally and financially! Thank you, Abraham, for being there when I needed you most!

“To my family: I would like to thank you all for being positive and always keeping me in your prayers! I have such a big gigantic family but would like to mention a few that really stand out in my mind right now. My daughter Michelle G. Smith, my niece and her husband Ana and Jonathan Higdon, my brother Richard Martinez, my sisters San Juana Martinez and Teresa Gravelin, and my brother and sister in law Felipe and Juana Martinez. Thank you for all the time spent preparing and pulling off a successful rummage sale. I am truly sorry if I failed to mention anyone.

Attendees at the benefit for Helen Garcia on Sept. 8 view silent auction items. The benefit was held at Southgate Casino Bar & Grill in south Grand Forks.

“Thank you LM Wind Power, (my) employer and coworkers, for all the support mentally and physically. Not one day passed without someone giving me a reason to smile. People I didn’t know personally would say things like. “It will get better.” “Take care!” Somebody was always telling me to take it easy. “Don’t work too hard!” “Are you ok?“ “Take a break!” Such a caring family I have at work! Thank you LM for working with me and accommodating my schedule as needed.

“In the first week of finding out about my cancer, I had friends bringing me frozen homemade meals and baked goods that I just had to reheat. Their reason: “One less thing for you to worry about!” Thank you Jodi Bernu, Kristi G., Jodi Quibble, Louise and Kat! If I didn’t tell you then, I’m telling you now! It was all good! Thank you Deanna Johnson for the cleaning supplies! We really appreciated and put to good use. Thank you to my brother Tony Martinez, Jodi B. and Kristi G. for the bracelets ordered and sold and to all who helped with distributing the posters around Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and my hometown, Grafton!

“To NDAD, I would like to thank you very much for all the support in making the posters and advertising on my behalf. A special thank you to two people who played a very important role in making this possible. First, Jeri Hietala, thank you for your hard work, knowledge, cheerful smile and always making me feel welcomed. Mike Brue, thank you for all the hard work, effort and time spent telling my story on and It was nice visiting with you and reminiscing about my family.

“Thank you to local businesses and all who donated items for the silent auction.

“Thank you, Southgate (Casino Bar & Grill), for providing the space and taking care of all the preparations before and after the spaghetti feed.

“Last, but surely not least…. and Jodi, please read this, too, or have Tony read this part for you!

“The biggest thank you and pat on the back goes to Jodi Bernu! The one person who was at my side from the very beginning! You have no idea how many times I wanted to cry hearing you talk about ideas to make my life at home and at work easier. You read the rules on what you could or could not do at work. You found a way for everything! Nothing was impossible! When you asked about LM starting a fundraiser and they told you they couldn’t do that, you were upset but I told you it was ok and I understood their situation! You wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Pretty soon you had everybody buying bracelets. Ha, ha! Thank you for the information and encouraging me to go to the Cancer Treatment Center of America! I feel it was the best decision I could have made! Thanks for being not just my lead but also for being a great friend! You made this all possible!

“Whatever the outcome of this fundraiser, I hope you all had fun! Thanks again everybody!!!

“P.S. Thank you to my niece and her husband, Kim and Matt Duncombe, for the T-shirts they designed and sold.”