My name is Lupe Montez and on September 28th, 2023, I celebrated my 14th year of surviving breast cancer. My cancer journey began with my annual mammogram in early September of 2009. Upon further testing, I was devastated to learn that I had cancer. The process moved quickly from there, with a flurry of appointments and consultations with my surgeon. My surgery was scheduled for September 28th, 2009, and while I was scared and nervous, I was also determined to have the tumor removed as soon as possible.

During this time, my older son was deployed to Iraq with the US Army, and my initial thought was that I might never see him again. My younger son was in high school, playing Varsity Baseball, and living out his dreams. Meanwhile, I was the Principal at Kindred Elementary in the South San Antonio ISD, and I was keeping very busy. My family’s faith, instilled in me by my loved ones, played an integral part in my recovery, and my Kindred family also played an important role in my journey to recovery. The faculty and staff were very supportive of my family when my son was deployed, and there was a yellow ribbon on every classroom door. There was even a yellow ribbon around the huge oak tree in the courtyard of the school. All those yellow ribbons remained until my son returned home safely the following year. When I returned to work after my surgery, pink ribbons were everywhere, which showed me how much I was loved and supported.

I believe that everything happens for a reason, and my counselor invited Ernie Zuniga, News Anchor from KABB to be our emcee for our TAKS Pep Rally a couple of years before my diagnosis. I thought she knew him from her work at a previous campus, but she said, “No, I just called him because I watch him on the morning news, and he agreed to come.” He did an awesome job every year he was with us. Around the same time as my diagnosis, the late Karen Martinez, who was also a KABB News Anchor, was also diagnosed with breast cancer. I watched her on air as she discussed her journey and brought much-needed awareness to breast cancer. I made her a couple of scarves and sent them to her via Ernie, and she mailed me a handwritten thank you note that I still treasure. She was a courageous warrior who will always be remembered.

I was anxious to get involved with breast cancer awareness activities, especially for our Latino population. At a local park get-together, I noticed a table set up with Thrivewell Cancer Foundation printed on some literature. I had not heard of the organization before, so I inquired about the program and decided to investigate further. My first activity with Thrivewell was a Pink Out Missions baseball game. It was amazing to be with other women who had gone through what I had gone through, and we were able to share, cry and laugh together. The rest is history, and I am honored to call my fellow Divas and Dudes my friends. Thrivewell now welcomes anyone with any kind of cancer who is a patient or survivor, and I am proud to be a part of this amazing community.