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San Luis woman strong in cancer fight
SAN LUIS, Ariz. — It is said that "faith moves mountains," and it has been faith that has sustained Lizlie Nuñez in her battle against cancer.
A year ago, the 23-year-old San Luis resident was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer that diminishes the capability of the immune system.
"Having a lot of faith is what keeps me strong," she said in a recent interview as friends of hers organized a drive in San Luis to find a bone marrow donor for her. "I know that everything is going to be all right. It's only a question of time and faith in God."
After the diagnosis, Nuñez remained hospitalized in Tucson until June of last year, at which time the cancer appeared to have gone into remission. But then in December, she suffered a relapse as doctors confirmed that the cancer had returned.
"They had told me that there was a good possibility that it could come back, but I had some hope that it wouldn't. I thought everything was going to be all right, but subconsciously I knew it could come back."
Her condition is not particularly painful, she said, although it leaves her tired, with occasional dizzy spells.
"The chemotherapy is really tiring. At first I vomited, was dizzy and had nausea, but it didn't go beyond that. That's why I say that God has helped me a lot, because I see other cancer patients who are in a lot of pain."
Having cancer, she said, has helped her understand the importance of bonding with others who have illness and to help others when asked.
"It has helped to see things differently. When you're healthy, you're a little bit of an egoist, but now that I'm in these shoes, I see that we need the help of others."
Nuñez's 2-year-old daughter, Jimena, is one of the biggest motives for fighting for her life, she said. "She sees me crying and she tells me, 'Mommy, don't cry.' I want to be with her. My motivation is to see her grow up."
More than 400 people turned out at the San Luis Youth Center on Feb. 18 to be tested to determine if any could be a compatible donor match for Nuñez. The Somerton and San Luis walk-in clinics will continue to perform exams for possible matches Mondays through Fridays from noon to 1 p.m.
Nuñez, a nursing student at Arizona Western College, says she's not losing hope in the face of the uncertainty of finding the donor match that is key to her recovery.
"The day I harbor fear is the day I give up hope. I want to be here for my daughter."
While the donor drive was taking place at the youth center, a benefit dodgeball tournament was under way at the nearby Joe Orduño Gym to raise money to help pay for some of Nuñez's medical expenses.
Amid the bad, this is something that's beautiful, that so many people are helping and giving me their prayers. I'm very thankful. It's hard but also it gives you strength. Before, I used to feel sorry for people who have cancer, and now that I am going through this, I know that God helps a lot. He gives you strength to go on."
Cesar Neyoy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6890.