Reporting Lisa Sigell
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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Diagnosed with breast cancer 14 years ago, Leonor Gavina-Valls will be among the thousands taking part in the Susan G. Komen L.A. County Race for the Cure on Saturday.
Leonor has been walking for the cure ever since her diagnosis and she said that she will not quit until there is a cure.
“I have been walking since 1998. That was the year that I was diagnosed, as well as I started my chemotherapy,” Leonor said.
When thousands of runners and walkers take to Dodger Stadium this weekend, they may kick it off with a cup of coffee. What most people do not know, is that there is a personal connection to every sip they drink.
That is because Leonor is Vice President of Marketing for Don Francisco’s Coffee. Ever since her diagnosis and first walk 14 years ago, her company proudly donates coffee for everyone at the race.
“And to me [it’s] so important to be part of it, because it gives me a great feeling that I can do something,” Leonor said.
When Leonor was diagnosed she was 46-years old and taking care of her two young children. It was not an easy time, but she can now call herself a survivor.
Still, when she walks among all the others each year, she is reminded of that tough time.
“Many times when I see somebody that has very short hair or no hair at all… I remember what it was like …and I try to be there for them. It’s a good feeling. And I let them know that there is hope,” she said.
She said that it is important to always stay positive.
Her work is very important to her, but so is her work with Race for the Cure. She knows that 25 percent of the money raised goes to research, while 75 percent stays right here in the Los Angeles area to help people in the fight against breast cancer.
“I believe that there is about 61 percent of the Latinas in Southern California that do not have insurance. Thanks to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, many of the Latina women that do not have insurance are able to get mammograms,” she said.
Leonor feels privileged to be among the survivors. She said the race has become such an important day for her that last year her team was the largest in the race and thus the trophy.
“They join because we see it as a celebration. Some people bring dogs, they bring kids, you know, it’s a family celebration,” Leonor explained.
So Saturday she will walk again with those she loves around her and she will continue to walk to year after year until a cure is found. And once a cure is found, she said that she will still walk to celebrate.
“Never, never give up… Never give up,” she said.
This year’s Race for the Cure is Saturday, March 24, at Dodger Stadium.