One may not know why life follows the course that it does. But for Heather Salazar, the decision to adopt the baby of a woman dying from breast cancer would ultimately save her life. 

According to the Woman’s Day article, Heather had a “typical” life. She met her husband as a teenager, got married, and had three children by the age of 28. She then met Alexis, a young mother with Stage 4 breast cancer. Alexis was a strong fighter, but she knew she needed someone to love and raise her 10-month old daughter, Lexi.

Alexis had minimal support, but then Heather became her support. She would visit her during cancer treatments and bring her groceries at home. Even though Alexis fought hard, she passed away at the age of 24.

Lovingly, Heather’s family welcomed Lexi with open hearts, adopting them into her family. Heather thought about Alexis often, but on this one particular day, Heather felt an urge to do a self-breast exam. She found a lump and was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer; the same type of aggressive cancer that had caused the death of Alexis.  Fortunately, Heather was able to get it treated quickly and is now in remission. However, she will always think that Alexis helped to save her life, “Had it not been for Lexi’s mom, I would never have done that self-exam. She saved my life.”

Lexi now has regularly scheduled checkups because of her family genealogy. Being so young, Lexi does have fears about cancer, but is able to work through these fears because of the support provided by her family. Heather stated in the Today article, “We had really candid conversations with them, because at the end of the day, no matter what, every girl just wants to know that she will live.”

People facing cancer, especially if diagnosed at an early age, face fears. Support groups are critical to ease those fears. Heather responded by supporting Alexis and has become further involved. She is now the CEO of the Pink Ribbon Girls, which provides grants for young women fighting cancer. Another way the group offers support is to provide them rides to treatments with a support person so they don’t have to ride the bus alone as Alexis did.