Local mother, children celebrating what could be their last Christmas together

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AURORA, Colo. -- A metro-area woman and her children are celebrating what could be their last Christmas together.

Juanita Marquez, a 34-year-old single mother, has stage 4 cervical cancer.

“Of course, we can never say when someone's natural passing is going to occur, but we know at this time... this needs to be an important Christmas,” said UCHealth Palliative Nurse Mari Kelley.

In May 2018, doctors told Marquez the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, legs and abdominal walls.

“That's what I said: 'I'm not going to worry. It's all in God's hands.' And my kids know that too. They pray -- they pray every night -- asking for a miracle, and it hurts to see them,” Marquez said. “I've been doing chemo for so long, that I don't want to be a zombie around my kids. I don't want the last memories of their mom just laying in bed."

Every year, the staff at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital adopt a family and pull money together to give them a memorable Christmas. This year, Kelley and the staff decided they would deliver gifts to Marquez, her 12-year-old son Nathaniel and her 8-year-old twins, Jasmine and Joslyn.

UCHealth staff sent some toys to Kelley's Aurora home.

The package was delivered to Kelley's house Tuesday morning and was stolen off her porch a short time later.

“We get that little ding, we have it on video. And right as I was picking up my lunch, I get a ding, and I look... and there's this gentleman on my porch, and he's taking the box,” Kelley said. “And so I went into Dr. Guntapalli's office, and I was like, 'A man just ruined (Marquez's) Christmas.' They need this Christmas to mean something, they need it to be magical, they need it to be memorable. That's all we were trying to do.”

When Marquez learned about the theft, instead of judge or scorn the porch pirate, she said, “That's all we can do is pray for them and just hope they can get out of that darkness.”

Just before Christmas, she provided an important reminder of the most important gifts of the season.

“Even if you have nothing, you have your family and your health. I think that's everything, you`re already blessed,” Marquez said.

Right after FOX31 interviewed Marquez, we learned from Aurora police that the package was returned to a neighbor, who then gave it back to Kelley.

However, police are still looking for the porch pirate. Metro Denver Crime Stoppers is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. If you know anything, you're asked to call 720-913-7867.

We were so touched by Marquez's story, the Problem Solvers did a little digging to see what we could do to help with the family's Christmas.

We've put together an Amazon Wish List for Marquez and her children, including items like shoes for the kids, gift cards for groceries and some toys.

Those hoping to donate can purchase a gift from the wish list online.

Note: When checking out on Amazon, select "FOX31 Problem Solvers: Care of Linda Kicak's Gift Registry Address."

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