Holtville football player battles cancer with community support

Holtville football player battles cancer with community support

Holtville, California November 4, 2011 - Those close to Holtville High School Senior Emmanuel Lucero say he was the picture of optimal health.  But a nagging pain in his arm wouldn't go away.

Lucero's diagnosis of osteosarcoma this summer meant chemotherapy and subsequent surgeries to remove cancerous cells.

"He's in high spirits and he's been able to keep going to school...when he's feeling up to it," says his older sister, Linda Martinez.  "Everybody is amazed at how strong he still looks, how happy he still is, you know.  With a big smile on his face, he's fighting through this."

Emmanuel's fight with cancer proved challenging for he and his family.  But Martinez says their family's faith in God and support of their tight-knit Holtville community keeps them strong. 
    
"It's one small community, but with lots of big hearts," says Martinez.  "The high school has been amazing.  All his friends, the whole city of Holtville, everything with church and town.  The whole Imperial Valley has...all come together to support Emmanuel [and] to support my family any which way they can."

Lucero's football coach Keith Smith echoes Martinez's feelings.  He says that community love gives everyone who knows Lucero hope.

"Everybody's rallied around him, organizations and clubs and groups at school," says Smith.  "It's really heart-warming to know that types of things still happen."

On Friday, Lucero underwent surgery at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego.  Doctors removed the humerus (upper arm bone) and part of his shoulder and replaced it with a prosthetic.  Now the family must wait for pathology results, which should come back within a week.  Martinez says the faith of others keeps them together.

"We couldn't have been doing this good without everybody's prayers, everybody's support, hugs, phones calls, fundraisers, just amazing what people do," says Martinez.

Donations are being accepted at any Sun Community Federal Credit Union branch in El Centro, Brawley or Holtville to help offset the cost of Emmanuel Lucero's medical care.

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