Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Latina Still Standing chooses to be thankful despite the tragedies

Published Nov. 2013

Being thankful is a choice.

People who have experienced many difficulties and hardships, may not think they have much to be thankful for. I believe that everyone has something to be thankful for; it’s just a matter of perspective.
Gina Sauceda is a Latina who has endured tremendous hardships and losses, yet she chooses to be thankful.

Gina and her husband Nick have been together since high school. They had three little girls. Their oldest daughter, Vanessa, was four years old when she became sick and was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. And, when their second daughter turned four years old, she was also diagnosed with the same illness.

Both children were given a certain number of years to live. Their mother chose not to disclose this information to the children; she let them live as normal a life as possible and both of them survived longer than originally predicted.

But, in 2002, her daughter Valerie, 13 years old, lost her battle with pulmonary hypertension and, seven years later, her oldest daughter Vanessa, who at 22 years old needed a heart and double lung transplant, also passed away.

Gina had to endure losing two of her three daughters within the same decade. Yet, she is still standing and she is thankful. “My grandchild is my world,” Gina said. “She and my daughter and my husband keep me going and I am thankful for them.”

Gina spent thousands of hours in various hospitals with her daughters since their diagnosis. Neither Gina nor the doctors know why the two girls were born with that disease; there was no apparent genetic history. Yet, in spite of the misfortune, Gina has chosen to be thankful. “I am thankful for the time I was able to be their mother,” she said. “I am thankful for waking up every day.”

She had been angry at first and angry at God, but she came to realize that God didn’t do this to her children, the illness did.

Gina’s advice to other families who have to endure something so tragic is to take it one day at a time and choose to be thankful for the time you have with your children. On account of her faith, Gina is sure that she will be with her girls again. She considers herself a Latina Still Standing and I definitely concur that she epitomizes what that phrase means – she is resilient, optimistic, courageous and has a strong faith to help her through tough times.

I chose to tell her story in November because I believe being thankful is a choice. Despite having gone through tremendous hardships and losses, one can still find reasons to be thankful.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for Gina and all of the other Latinas I have met through the Latina Still Standing column, blog and facebook platforms and thankful that I can share their stories of triumph over so many obstacles with other Latinas in order to inspire them to never give up.
Happy Thanksgiving, Latinas!

An Arizona native, Diana Bejarano, is a blogger, columnist, motivational speaker, marketing professional and a graduate of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Reach her at

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