ABC7 Pay It Forward: Mom battling cancer inspires daughter's friend


It's part of our popular "Pay It Forward" series, where we surprise Southern Californians with the chance to give $500 to someone deserving.

Just moments after showing our "Pay It Forward" sign inside the Plaza West Covina shopping center, friends Jacklyn Zapien and Sasha Franco walked up to us.

"I want to pay it forward to Sasha's mother. She has stage 4 breast cancer," said Jacklyn.

Sasha's mom, Virginia Franco, has been fighting breast cancer on and off for years. It recently returned and she's endured a grueling round of chemo. She bought an inexpensive wig but had problems with it. Our $500 could help her buy a better one.

"She complains that a lot of the wigs are uncomfortable on her hair so she'll cover her head with head wraps and hats. So I want her to feel comfortable," said Jacklyn.

Sasha was very touched.

"It would mean so much to me. I love my mom a lot. And she's been through a lot since I was in ninth grade and I just love her," Sasha said through tears.

Amazingly, Jacklyn has never even met Virginia before. She'd only heard about Virginia's cancer battle from her daughter, Sasha.

Sasha let us inside her mom's home for the big surprise and the first-ever meeting. I told Virginia that her daughter's friend thought of her as someone she wanted to pay it forward to. I asked Jacklyn to explain why.

"I just want to pay it forward to you because everything you do for them is so amazing and so awesome," Jacklyn told Virginia. "I think your story is so inspiring and I can see the love that you have for your family through her and I just wanted to give that back to you."

As they're both in tears, Virginia thanks Jacklyn and gives her a big hug. It's also an emotional moment for Virginia and her daughter.

"She just keeps going forward. It's a great example for us," Sasha said.

"It's very emotional, because I never see her cry," Virginia said of her.

Virginia's husband, Joe, says his wife is remarkably strong.

"She never whines about cancer or anything. But women are tougher than men. I do know that for sure," he said.

"I think everybody has problems. In any way I could inspire somebody to fight in whatever their fight is, then I guess I've done my job," said Virginia.

Jacklyn, who walked in a stranger, now feels like part of the family.

"It kind of shows everybody that people still care about strangers. And I would hope that inspires other people too that we're all in this struggle together. And if there's any way we can help out one another, that's really the take home message in all of it," said Jacklyn.

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