Hispanic Heritage Month: Lorena Gonzalez’s unique San Diego story

Hispanic Heritage Month

SAN DIEGO – Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, is now recovering from a bilateral mastectomy surgery, and says there is “no cancer left.”

The North County native, born in Tri-City Hospital in Oceanside, is now back to work for her constituents in the South Bay. Gonzalez has overcome many challenges as a Latina, but her breast cancer diagnosis has been one of the biggest yet.

“I’m going to live, that is one thing the oncologist told me. This is not going to be comfortable. I have to have a double mastectomy but I’m going to be alive and I anticipate I’m going to be alive for a very long time despite cancer,” Gonzalez told FOX 5 before the operation.

Gonzalez was born on Mexican Independence Day, and says with a smile that “El Grito,” a tradition where Mexicans imitate the battle cry of the Mexican war the night before Independence Day – was made just for her.

“That was the story I was told when I was a little girl and still believe it today,” she said.

Gonzalez’s father is a Mexican immigrant from Michoacán, Mexico.

“My father came to this country when he was a teenager. He came to start picking strawberries in the fields of north San Diego County, right there by the mission,” Gonzalez said.

Raised by her mother, Gonzalez worked hard in school and was accepted into Stanford University as a first-generation college student. 

“My first few years in college I had imposter syndrome. There weren’t a lot of people who looked like me, that came from the same place I came from,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez now represents hundreds of thousands of Latinos who live in her South Bay district. She says they rely on her to get things done. 

“We have changed laws dealing with immigration to normalize the livelihood of our mixed status families,” Gonzalez said.

“We have provided opportunities for ‘Dreamers,’ who are as American as those who had the opportunity to be born here,” she added, referring to people who were brought into the U.S. as children and now remain in the country as part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Gonzalez says there is always more work to be done, including an idea spurred by her battle with breast cancer: a change to policy that could give women more guidance after getting mammograms.

“We have to ensure we aren’t just telling women and providing the opportunity to be screened, but once that screening comes back questionable, to actually have the opportunity to have the diagnoses as well,” she told FOX 5.

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