Friday, September 12, 2014

A Latina en Lucha Needs You Mucha Campaign

Melinda Palacio

Michele Serros and Melinda Palacio

 In 1995, I heard Michele Serros read at Martinez Bookstore in Santa Ana. At the time, I didn't see myself as a writer. My mom's best friends, Mary Rose and Eddie Ortega are avid readers and collectors of Chicano Literature. I had no idea what I was in for when I went along for the ride with the Ortegas. I met my first published author, a young jubilant Chicana whose stories were so real and close to home, I laughed without realizing the magical impact of that experience.

Michele Serros reading at a fundraiser for the 2010 Latino Book and Family Festival

In the past twenty years, Michele's stories and books have become iconic and required reading in high schools and colleges.  I never thought decades later we would both be featured authors on panels and writer pals who send each other late night texts.  Earlier this year, I had my own debut at Martinez Books. Thanks to Reyna Grande, who gathered 140 Latino authors for the 2010 Latino Book and Family Festival (see photos and post on La Bloga), I met Michele Serros again as a fellow published author.

Giving Back to a Young Author Who Has Inspired So Many

Less than a year after that moment of meeting Michele Serros again at the Latino Book and Family Festival, I knew that she had some complicated news she wanted to share. But she was hesitant to come out with it. I remember seeing her again in Berkeley when she came to hear me read with Francisco X. Alarcón at Moe's Books. She hinted at her illness, but didn't say outright, I have cancer.  I think she was hoping the disease that claimed her mother would go away and that she wouldn't have to burden her family, friends, and fans with the knowledge that she was fighting for her life.

In April 2013, she could no longer ignore the diagnosis. The cancer advanced to Stage 4 adenoid cystic carcinoma, affecting her bones, liver, lymph nodes and paralyzing her left vocal chord.

Some of her friends convinced her to join a crowd funding campaign to help pay for the astronomical price of what her insurance does not cover. Michele Serros chose to stand down cancer in a public way, sharing photos from her hospital stay on Facebook and writing about her lucha on the Huffington Post. Join her campaign and help her say, Hasta La Bye Bye Cancer! You will even be able to join in her chorus of gritos September 16. As of yesterday, she has raised $26, 517 out of a goal of $30, 000.

I hope that Michele exceeds her goal. I look forward to belting out a grito for her on September 16, Mexican Independence Day and the last day to contribute to her GiveForward Campaign, 'A Latina en Lucha Needs You Mucha.'

Yesterday, I texted and emailed a few people and gathered a little help to round out this Bloga post and boost the crowd funding campaign for Michele Serros. Here are a few more testimonials.

Michele Serros and Mary Rose Ortega

Mary Rose Ortega writes:

"Over the years, I have been to several of her readings, have read and collected her books. All her books are personally autographed. She has brought back many memories and has added laughter to my life. I feel she has included us on her day to day struggle because she knows we care. She puts laughter on the persistent cancer that she is fighting. As a Chicana, I feel that she has always made me proud and when a friend is in need, we need to be there for them. So please give, what you can, to help her in this fight against Cancer."

Amada Irma Perez offers two throwback photos:
Las tres comadres in writing in happier times at the Women’s Literary Festival in Santa Barbara: Melinda Palacios, Michele Serros, Amada Irma Perez 2012 
Michele Serros and Melinda Palacio as honorary members of Women Who Write (WoWW). L to R: Michele, Mona AlvaradoFrazier, Melinda, Toni Guy, Sheri Ward, Amada Irma Perez, Dannielle Brown. Not pictured: Florencia Ramirez, Lori Anaya

Mona AvaradoFrazier and Michele Serros
at the Ventura County Museum where Michele was the keynote speaker for the Latina Film Festival.
Lucy Rodriguez-Hanley made a short film based on one of Michele's short stories.

Mona AlvaradoFrazier writes:
"We are homegirls, Michele and I. Not only did we attend the same high school, are from the same hometown, and in the same critique group but we are homegirls in the fight against cancer. My own fight was nine years ago.

When Michele told me she had cancer, there were no words that I could say, I could only hug her tightand feel the struggle ahead that is a battle for life as it is known before the word 'cancer,' is uttered

Michele is genuinely sweet, a quality hard to come by when you suffer the loss of a parent and grow up in an economically depressed urban areaShe is kindwittytalentedand so much moreBut the quality I know her best for is her ganasthat unique ability to survive and thrive whatever the odds

Thank you to everyone who donates to Michele's fight against cancerShe has many more stories to write."

Florencia Ramirez

Florencia writes:
 "As far as I'm concerned  Michele Serros put Oxnard and El Rio on the map! My favorite all time poem of Michele's is "Dead Pig's Revenge." I've read and re-read it through the years. Recently, I read it aloud to my children; they couldn't stop laughing. But the best part is they could relate: to the chicharrones, to growing up in Oxnard. Michele's poetry and stories are theirs too. 

Through her stories she shows us how life is hysterical, joyful, cruel, and baffling...but somehow we get through it and it is all damn beautiful. But damn this cancer that tugs at Michele's is too soon, too many unwritten stories only she can write. 

With the help of Facebook, she has taken us with her on her lucha against cancer. She shows us all how to face life's toughest challenges with grace and authenticity. And like the young Michele in "Dead Pig's Revenge," this too will have a happy ending."

Reyna Grande

La Bloga friend, Reyna Grande writes:"
"Michele is a wonderful human being and a talent writer who has inspired me by her hard work and dedication but also by the strength and resiliency she ha s shown during this difficult period of her life. I wish her all the best and I encourage everyone to give to her campaign as a way of thanking her for everything she has given us, her readers and fans."

Michele Serros, Stylish Survivor and Author
Join her Campaign. Help her fight cancer.
Last, but never least, we hear from Michele Serros herself. She wants gente reading La Bloga to know that "in addition to being known as the 'Chicana Child (who Chokes on Chicharones in Chico, her effs (friends, family, and fans) may yell out Michele Serros, 'Chicana Conquers Cancer...con safos'."


Olga Garcia Echeverria said...

Gracias por this post, Melinda. Michelle Serros' chicharrones (el cuento) and other stories have inspired so many of us throughout the years. Best wishes to Michelle on her continued healing and to her Lucha campaign. Si se puede!

msedano said...

'Chicana Conquers Cancer...con safos'.