Three years ago, Maria Vasquez-Rojas received news to celebrate: After many attempts to conceive, she was going to have a baby. But while pregnant with her daughter, Ellie, Maria was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer.
"If I had not gone in for that ultrasound they would have never caught it. [Ellie] saved my life," Maria tells her brother, Francisco Vasquez, on a visit to StoryCorps in Los Angeles.
"Ellie's just been a miracle to our family," Francisco says. "Back then, I was not in a good place. I was addicted to meth, stealing. And then after you had Ellie and you were just going through your chemotherapy, I would come on my days off, and our parents would come, and having Ellie around — she was able to pull me out of the dark moments."
"I want to tell you, Frankie, that I am just so proud of you," Maria says. "You've grown up to be such a wonderful man and a wonderful human being. And I know you don't like to hear this, but if one day I'm not here, you have to be there for Ellie so that she feels her mom and what her mom represents."
"And I promise you that this change has been forever and it's made me who I really am," Francisco tells his sister. On Thursday, Francisco became Ellie's godfather.
Audio produced for Morning Edition by Nadia Reiman.