Oropeza family raises money for cancer research

Taking everyday life for granted is something one Frenship Community family will never do again.

Michelle Oropeza and her daughters, twin sisters Maria and Meagan and younger sister Malini, lost husband and father, Manuel, to brain cancer in July 2007 after an almost two-year battle. Shortly after his passing, 16-year-old Maria was diagnosed in September with thyroid cancer.

“We take it one day at a time. Some days are easier than others,” said Michelle, computer lab manager at Willow Bend Elementary.

All three daughters participated last summer in cancer research fundraising during their father’s treatment. Their father was involved with the Lance Armstrong Foundation, but the girls’ fundraising efforts were done through Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a national foundation for childhood cancer.

Michelle said she found out she had a benign thyroid nodule in August, but said the doctor advised her to have her daughters examined.

“We found out about Maria after the doctors discovered a nodule in my thyroid. Mine turned out to be benign, but Maria’s was cancerous,” said Michelle.

On Feb, 21, Maria successfully underwent surgery at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

“It was four hours and the surgeon said he had to do extensive work, but he feels he got 100 percent of the cancer,” said Oropeza.

Maria Oropeza, now cancer-free, and her family returned to Lubbock on Feb. 24.

Maria was named Frenship High School’s eleventh-grade student of the month for January. She said she plans to study forensics in college, while twin sister Meagan said she plans to study culinary arts. Their sister Malini, 10, isn’t sure about college yet.

Michelle said she and her daughters are so thankful for the support she has received at school and throughout the Frenship Community.

They plan to keep up cancer research fundraising this summer. They will have a booth from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 6-8 in front of Sam’s Club to collect donations for Alex’s Lemonade Stand.

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