She's baking to battle cancer
Armed with whisks, oven mitts and baking pans, Woodland Heights resident Mayte Sanchez is battling cancer by appealing to those who have a holiday sweet tooth.
Mayte is whipping up cookies, cakes and breads from the comfort of her own kitchen to help cover the cost of treatment for cervical cancer.
It's Mayte's second bake sale in as many months, prompted the first time by a devastating phone call.
"The hospital called and canceled my chemo," said Mayte, a 34-year-old married mother of three. "You don't tell somebody with cancer that you don't have insurance. I panicked and had a breakdown."
Because of confusion and a misunderstanding, Mayte, who had been working as an assistant manager in the retail industry, lost her job along with her health insurance. Needing cash to continue chemotherapy, Mayte organized a last-minute "emergency bake sale" in November, posting it on Facebook and ultimately raising $3,000.
"It was so touching how many people helped me and sent messages that they were praying for us," Mayte said. "It's the perfect time of year to hear and see things like that."
The issue with Mayte's employer has been sorted out and her insurance has been re-instated until the end of December. If Mayte can't go back to work by then, she said she'll be terminated. That's why Mayte has launched a second holiday bake sale. Family friend and neighbor Allison Hartzell is helping spread the word.
"She's a friend who needs a helping hand but won't ask for it," Hartzell said, "so she needed some intervention."
Baking for bucks is a natural fit for Mayte. Her mother owned All in One Celebration bakery on Pecore Street for 17 years.
"I helped her run the bakery on and off," Mayte said, "so I know all her recipes and secret ingredients."
Delia Botello died of a stroke in 2008, but the family intended to continue the business, until Hurricane Ike destroyed the building one month later. That's the same year Mayte, at nine months pregnant, was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Mayte's obstetrician had been checking her for dilation when he felt a lump. A couple of days later, Mayte was in the operating room with two teams – one to deliver Lukas, one to perform a hysterectomy. Mayte's lymph nodes tested positive, indicating the cancer had already spread. Mayte had a second surgery, followed by chemotherapy and radiation.
Mayte was able to turn all of her attention back to her kids, but it didn't last. Eighteen months later, Mayte noticed a lump in her neck. The cancer was back.
"I just want to finish treatment and live our lives like the cancer is gone," Mayte said. "I don't want to be watching over my shoulder again. I've already beat the odds twice. I feel lucky."
Hartzell said Mayte's family is supportive and caring, despite the financial strain.
"Her children are darling and sweet," Hartzell said. "Her husband is working full time trying to make everything work, pay bills and still be a good dad. You never hear them complain."