San Gabriel Valley : Cancer Patient Receives Heartening Gift From City

Rosa Varela has spent the past months preparing herself and her four children for the inevitable. A terminally ill cancer patient, Varela, 44, has struggled to cope with her illness even as overdue bills and medical expenses piled up.

Touched by Varela's situation, the city of Monterey Park, where she lives, pulled together more than $10,000 in donations for a fund the city started on Varela's behalf. The money, collected from residents, service organizations, churches and businesses, was presented to Varela, who was accompanied by her eldest daughter, at a City Council meeting Monday.

By Tuesday morning, however, the energy Varela had summoned to attend the meeting was gone. She could not get out of bed and it required a concerted effort just to eat. But the city's gift is heartening, she said.

"These gestures on the part of people who have never seen us and probably never will are very positive lessons in life for my children," she said. It's evidence "that the world does have human beings who are very caring and loving."

Times readers, also responding to a story in last month's paper, have donated more than $26,000

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