According to author Mark Twain, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.” No one I know lives life more fearlessly an with more courage than Cristina Galvan Rodriguez. Over the past several months, Cristina has faced the most difficult challenge of her life, having been diagnosed with Stage IV non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She has demonstrated bravery, dignity and grace and—incredibly—has found a way to use this challenge as an opportunity to raise awareness about this disease in our community. Her story is nothing short of inspiring.
Living fearlessly has always been a way of life for Cristina. A Zumba fitness instructor, she and her husband had just decided to fulfill a lifelong ambition of entrepreneurship by opening up her own fitness studio. Her passion for dance and her dedication to her students brought her great success. It was around this time that she began experiencing unusual symptoms – tremendous leg and hip pain. Her doctors at first attributed it to overworking, but after months of excruciating agony, attempts at treatment, and much desperation, her cancer diagnosis became a stark, cruel reality.
It was inexplicable for all who knew her. Cristina embodied a healthy lifestyle – she had lost 50 pounds by embracing healthy eating and exercise habits. Cristina admitted that she was scared, but she was determined to beat the odds and her doctors were optimistic about her prognosis. So, rather than succumb to despair and hopelessness, she decided – while hobbling on her rhinestone-studded crutch—to attend an international Zumba instructor convention, with some of the greatest names in fitness and music in attendance. There, she participated in a cancer awareness photo shoot and interview. Her spunk and can-do attitude led two of the master instructors form the convention to travel from Florida to Corpus Christi to participate in a fundraiser and lymphoma awareness event organized by Cristina. Local media covered the event and received rave reviews from all who attended.
In between chemotherapy treatments, Cristina spends time on a Facebook page she has created, “Team Cristina,” promoting lymphoma awareness and overcoming adversity. She actively participates at her church, crediting her faith, friends and family as her source of strength. She has galvanized our fitness community and served as an example of courage and grace under fire, showing us how we can use adversity to fulfill our greater purpose in life.
*Submitted by Lorena Parada-Valdes