In 2003, after suffering with symptoms since the early 1990’s, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. As a high school teacher, I educated my school community and raised awareness so much that my MS Walk team consisted of upwards of 400 walkers. In 2011 I learned that I had broken at least 1 vertebra (line due to a fall thanks to MS) and underwent spinal fusion and decompression surgery, and continued to educate my community. Sadly, I became unable to perform
My job anymore and became disability retired in 2014. As I struggled to regain my strength and walk again, I found my way to meditation as a coping mechanism for the extreme sadness I felt, and the depression that was all encompassing. As I began to regain some strength I also incorporated light yoga to keep my body moving and my brain mindful. At the end of 2016 (12/30 to be exact), I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Just like everything else in my life I put a smile on my face and did what I had to, and today I am more than 4 years cancer free. During it all I leaned on yoga and meditation because they are the best non-medicinal tools I know. I even became a yoga teacher so that I could share the benefits of the practice with others because I know first-hand how well it works. Just when I thought I had been given all that I could handle, I was then diagnosed with diabetes in 2018. While I certainly have had my share of obstacles, never once have I asked “why me?”. What I always say is “why not me?”, because I am no better or worse than anyone else and I clearly am swimming in a very shallow gene pool. One thing that has been constant for me is helping others, whether it has been advocating at doctor appointments, helping navigate the difficult waters to SSDI, teaching free yoga classes, or simply talking on the phone with those who need help. From where I stand, despite it all, life is incredibly sweet and I am grateful for every single day.
Daniel G. Garza has been a Patient Leader for about 20 years. He began his public speaking career after his AIDS diagnosis in September of 2000. He has lived Clean & Sober since June 21, 2007. After being diagnosed with Anal Cancer in May 2015, he had an Ostomy surgery in 2016, was diagnosed with Agoraphobia in 2017 and Diabetes in 2018. All of these events contributed to allowing those that hear his story and take a closer look at the long-term effects of HIV.
Daniel shares his story on social media, through several campaigns such as Positively Fearless, and volunteers for organizations such as Radiant Health Centers in Irvine California. He works with Wisdo as a Mentor, WEGO Health as a consultant and Global Healthy Living Organization as a member of the LGBT-COVID-19 Committee. Through his company Lilmesican Productions, Daniel and his partner, Christian, produce livestream content that is geared towards adding a positive message to their community.