In honor of Father’s Day and Men’s Health Month, we want to focus on a story we believe is not shared enough; no one goes through breast cancer alone and many times those co-survivors are husbands. Gerry Garcia is one of those co-survivors.
Birthdays are supposed to be happy occasions, but Gerry’s 36th celebration became a never-ending nightmare.
“My wife, Ana, was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, a rare form of the disease,” Garcia said, recalling that fateful day, May 5, 2005. “It felt like our whole lives just fell apart. We were in total disbelief. We cried for days.”
Then they began to fight for Ana’s life. She had a mastectomy, radiation and chemotherapy. Through it all, Gerry was by her side with love, support and encouragement. Their two young children, Bryanna and Maverick, tried to understand.
Eighteen months later, the cancer spread to her brain. Surgery removed one large tumor. Other tumors were treated with chemotherapy. But the cancer remained.
Finally, in December 2009, doctors said they had exhausted all treatment options. Ana went home for the last time.
“She gave us five more months of love and laughter,” Gerry said. “She told our kids that she would soon be going to Heaven. Her strength and honesty helped them cope.”
Toward the end, Ana’s sister gave birth to a daughter and named her Ana. Baby Ana was born on May 12. Two days later, a proud aunt got to hold and kiss her niece for the first and only time.
On May 17, 2010, just three days later, with her mom sleeping by her side and Gerry holding her hand, Ana passed away.
“She was an amazing woman – a beautiful wife, devoted mother, caring sister and loving daughter. While I miss her every day, I get comfort knowing that she is no longer hurting but enjoying eternal peace and salvation.”
Today, life goes on for the Garcia family, but Gerry admitted, “Sometimes it feels like this new life of being a single parent hasn’t sunk in. I try and stay strong for the kids.
“I think they are doing well. We talk about her often and remember all the great things their mommy did for them and the wonderful person she was. Our memories of Ana help the three of us deal with her loss.”