Iman Moujtahed lost her 11-year-old cousin, Aranza Garza, to cancer earlier this year.
Moujtahed recalls Garza’s strength, which lasted even until her death on July 27 in Mexico City.
“I don’t want to die, but if I do, I hope I have done everything that I could to help the people that I was supposed to here on earth,” Garza told her family before her death.
Inspired to help others affected by cancer, Moujtahed, the 22-year-old Saddleback College ASG events committee officer of community service, started promoting Pluck-A-Duck, a fundraiser for children with cancer.
“The recent tragedy of losing my cousin to cancer, makes me realize that people don’t get as involved until it hits home,” Moujtahed said.
Moujtahed goes to Saddleback classrooms explaining how buying ducks can make a difference to children who have cancer and are going through treatment.
“The first time I went to a classroom, it was my speech class and right then and there, I sold a duck,” Moujtahed said. “It starts to becomes social pressure, but in a good way and I will even buy ducks out of pocket and collect money later,” she said.
Pluck-A-Duck was started to provide these children with a stuffed animal that they can interact with in order to cope with the scary moments of having to go through chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
Saddleback isn’t the only place that Moujtahed spreads the word about the program. She also goes to places in her community to raise awareness.
Moujtahed’s explains posting Pluck-A-Duck flyers at Starbucks and other neighboring spots with passion stems from a letter written by her uncle after his daughter died.
“Dear friends and family,
My daughter finally left her cancer and went to heaven. She had 19 chemotherapies, four operations and more then 30 stays at the hospital, almost a 100 bags of transfusions and lots of medicines.
She was also given mental therapy, spiritual therapy, natural and home remedies, special diets, alternative medicine, radiation, blood analysis, oxygen tanks and so many other things that she left behind.
She left her horrible distress behind and everyday that she is missing, everyday she is remembered.
– Fernando Garza.”
In Mexico, Garza’s family has gotten involved in local charities, providing a way for way the family to cope with the loss of Garza.