TUCSON, Ariz. — David Garcia spends much of his time at the University of Arizona Cancer Center -- reaching out -- engaging the Hispanic community -- about the risks of cancer.
He explains why. The disease hit close to home. Not only did his grandmother have breast cancer -- so does his lifelong friend -- Charissa Martinez Presti, who lives in Cochise County.
They go way back -- 25 years. David said, "She was diagnosed with breast cancer. Stage 3 at the age of 31." Forever changing her life -- and the lives of her husband and two kids.
But that cancer diagnosis -- he says -- came later. "She initially was told she didn't have cancer. She had a lump - may be an infection," he said.
David says the doctors didn't want to order a mammogram. "Because she wasn't of screening age. She was not 40 years ago," he said.
That concerned David because research shows more Hispanic woman are being diagnosed with the disease at earlier ages. Breast cancer is the number one killer of Latinas.
So Charissa advocated for herself.
"Fought for herself to get the mammogram-- to get the biopsy," he said. And she did get the mammogram at UA Banner Cancer Center.
That's when she learned she did, indeed, have breast cancer. "She's my best friend, like my sister. To see her go through that was tough," he said.
Charissa is still here -- a survivor -- now 6 years in remission, but left with battle wounds. "She lost of a breast -- ovaries -- and has permanent hair loss. She's still fighting the disease," he said. "Once you get cancer, you're always a cancer survivor. They continually live with that. Her husband continually lives with that, in addition to her kids."
As his best friend continues to fight cancer, David reaches out to the Hispanic community to let them know -- they have choices -- in prevention -- and in health care. "And that there are advocates, such as American Cancer Society, to do that," he said.
The American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Tucson event is on October 20th at Armory Park, downtown Tucson.
Please consider donating or joining our KGUN9 Making Strides Team --Click Here! !
For more about the Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk -- Click Here! !