The moment she found out she had breast cancer, Margarita Longoria stayed positive and refused to slow down her fast-paced life. Although most people would consider battling cancer a difficult life-changing obstacle, Longoria said it was easy for one reason: she was not alone.
She was diagosed in April 2014 after a monthly check-up sent her to a radiology clinic in Corpus Christi.
Longoria said the cancer was not a shock to her since her mother died of cervical cancer and her sister Linda battled colon cancer.
"My sister's treatments were much harsher than mine. When I compare my treatment to others, I don't consider myself ever being ill," Longoria said.
She describes her sister Linda as her pillar of support and says her up-beat personality helped her during the battle.
Longoria said her battle was beat because of the power of the support she received.
"Power comes from money and people. I've never had money, but it doesn't matter. I have a huge family," she said. Longoria is the third of 12 children and said she's used to being surrounded by loved ones.
However, her immediate family is small with her only son Jose, his wife Tasha and her two grandchildren.
Longoria said her son was the person who took days off from work to drive her to San Antonio for her treatments.
"My son and I are alike. We never like to take days off so it amazed me that he did that just to take me," she said.
Longoria's support also generated from close friends including Orlando Garcia who reminded her to take vitamins on a daily basis and checked up on her.
Another friend, Willie Ruiz, kept her active by being her walking partner for three years.
"Every morning I get a text at 4:30 a.m. 'going at five.' If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't squeeze in my power walks," she said. "I always feel safe with him there with me and we we're happy to take care of our health together."
Staying fit and healthy is one of Longoria's priorities.
When Longoria was first diagnosed, she picked up literature at the doctor's office and watched educational videos on her disease to learn more about what she was going up against.
"I told my doctor I would do anything to not get cancer again," she said. "Exercise was the first thing he brought up."
Tina Saenz, also a cancer survivor, made sure Longoria's social life didn't disappear.
"We would have lunch after appointments and do thing together like nothing was different," she said.
Her Beta Pi sisters Rosie Delgado, Kassy Hinojosa and others were another form of support.
"We go way back in the education field," she said. "I chose to be in a field that helps people and they always helped me."
Longoria has been an educator for 38 years and is currently the eighth grade counselor at William Adams Middle School (WAMS) in Alice, where she was raised.
"I feel like I'll be doing this for quite some time," she said.
Longoria said her WAMS family has been tremendously supportive with her battle and also with supporting the awareness of the disease.
Because of Judy Tiller, Sandra Smithwick, coaches and staff, the school raised $11,000 for Relay for Life last year.
During her battle, her former student Dr. Ruben Pena was the principal at WAMS and supported her by believing she could still get her work done.
Another power source in her fight was faith.
"I strongly believe in the power of prayer," she said. "My bible study family really kept me going. I don't get to see my immediate family regularly, but I see them once a week."
Her brother-in-law Joe Vela leads the group and has also been of great support to her.
Longoria attends St. Elizabeth Catholic Church where she said is another family who offers help and support.
To others suffering from the battle, Longoria urges them to find a support group of some kind. The American Cancer Society offers sessions on how to deal with changes with cancer like hair loss.
"When I lost my hair, I was prepared. I had a wig and my sister, a beautician, helped me," she said.
The day Longoria's hair fell, she was accompanied by her friend Orlando and sister.
"Having them there made the difference," she said. "I would have been distraught being alone at that changing moment, but I wasn't. I realized that I never have to be alone."