At the end of the Santa Clara City Council Meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 10, Councilmember Lisa Gillmor read a short biography submitted by community member Kathy Watanabe: “Jenn will always be remembered for her faith in God, love of family, laughter, support and always being positive; even when she was diagnosed, she said, ‘smiles not tears.'” That citizen was Jennifer Garcia, a wife and mother who died at age 40 on Nov. 6 after a long battle with synovial sarcoma, a cancer of the soft tissue.
“I’m going to remember Jenn by her smile, her hugs and her commitment as a wife to me,” says Michael Garcia, husband of Jennifer Garcia. “She was my college sweetheart.”
Michael Garcia met Jennifer Garcia when they both worked at Macy’s during their college years. He was working in the women’s department while she was a seasonal hire in the holiday department. A friend introduced the two. After a seven year courtship, Michael and Jennifer Garcia married on September 30, 2000.
The Garcias have three daughters: Mikaylee, 13, Kelanie, 11 and Kaleya, 7. They have loving and happy memories of their mother. Mikaylee remembers watching Days of Our Lives after school with her mother and yelling at the TV together. Kelanie reminisces about going on runs and having one-on-one mom and daughter talks in the car.
Michael Garcia, now a single father to the three girls, believes that public figures should speak out for sarcoma awareness as they do for other illnesses.
“We see all this other awareness out there for other diseases, like breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, testicular cancer and we see the research getting funded,” he says. “We don’t see anything about funding for synovial sarcoma research. I want people to understand that this particular cancer should get equal attention as the others. We need a cure. Sarcoma is a cancer of the flesh and muscles and there are 50 sub-types of this cancer. Of the 50, Jenn got synovial sarcoma cancer.”
Born on July 2, 1975, Jennifer Garcia was a native of South San Francisco. She was a letter girl at Westborough Junior High School and attended South San Francisco High School. She graduated from San Jose State University and worked as a financial analyst at Lockheed Martin. She was also a distinguished volunteer at Don Callejon School. Here, she served as a parent officer and co-leader of the Project Cornerstone program and helped secure Project Cornerstone’s Caring School Climate Award for Don Callejon Middle School.
“I want to thank the Rivermark moms, the Don Callejon School staff, South Bay Church and the Santa Clara Sporting Soccer League for their support during this time,” says Michael Garcia. He is currently employed in the security industry but looking for opportunities that will allow him to be flexible to care for his three girls.
A memorial fund has been established to support the Garcia daughters’ future educational goals. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.