One week after finding out she was pregnant with her first child, Roxanne Martinez was diagnosed with stage 2, triple-negative breast cancer.
Worried that a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy in the second trimester of her pregnancy would affect her child, Fort Worth resident Martinez said she was determined to fight for both their lives, but it would take a “miracle.”
Then came Serenity Milagros (“miracles” in Spanish) Shelbon on April 20, 2011, with a full head of hair.
“She was always in my mind gonna be my miracle,” she said.
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Now six years cancer-free at age 37, Martinez shared her story during the opening ceremony of the first More Than Pink Walk, hosted by the Susan G. Komen Greater Fort Worth, on Saturday.
Martinez and her family have participated in the Race for the Cure event for the last seven years as Team Roxy. Not only do they raise funds for the cancer foundation, the event is also a celebration of Serenity’s birthday.
The team has raised more than $430 as of Saturday, but Martinez said they won’t stop to reach their goal of $700.
Not just about pink
Her support wasn’t just by her family and friends of “Team Roxy,” who have participated in the last seven years to raise funds, it was also by the thousands of other breast cancer survivors participating in the walk, and help from Susan G. Komen during her treatment.
What’s different about this year’s event, aside from raising the $750,000 goal, is that Fort Worth was chosen nationally as the first of four cities to test the new More Than Pink Walk event, Tracey Boyes, Greater Fort Worth executive director said.
One reason for trying something new is because up to 8 percent of race participants choose to not run or raise money, she said. Doing so would also focus more on the cause.
If successful, the new event would replace “Race for the Cure,” which started in 1982 nationally, Boyes said.
'Scary at first'
Martinez said she was shocked of her diagnosis at her age, especially not having any family history of the cancer.
Rachel Martinez, Roxanne’s younger sister, was the first family member to learn about the pregnancy and diagnosis of breast cancer.
Similar to being there for her then, Rachel stood by Roxanne’s side to walk around the Clear Fork Trinity River on Saturday.
“It was scary at first but I’ve always known her to be a fighter,” she said. “She’s kind of the leader and the hero of the family.”
Although the walk was emotional because it is a reminder of Roxanne Martinez’s journey, Rachel Martinez said continuing to be there for her sister is what makes participating in the event each year important.
“Any day I get to be with her now is a great day,” Rachel Martinez said.