First stop after overcoming cancer: meeting Altuve

PASADENA, Texas – Liza Valverde will always remember November 9, 2022, as that was the day the Astros fan found out she had beaten uterine cancer. In keeping with her tradition, Valverde was asked if she wanted to ring a bell at the hospital to signal that she had finished her treatment. But she had other plans.

Valverde, who lives in La Porte, a Houston suburb, hurried to a sporting goods store to be the first in line of people wanting to greet Astros star José Altuve during a training session. autograph signing five days after Houston won the World Series. Valverde was first in line and had to wait 36 ​​hours outside the shop before finally being able to meet Altuve.

“It was totally worth it,” he said.

Valverde was actually able to grab a bell while waiting in line, thanks to another Astros fan who heard his story and brought a bell to the store. He waited all night with his family before being allowed in to see Altuve on November 10.

“That was better than ringing a bell,” he said.

Altuve gave Valverde a hug and spent several minutes talking to her. The fan nearly cried as Altuve signed her a Space City shirt with the No. 27, along with a couple of posters.

“What can I say?” Altuve wondered. “Obviously I am very happy for her. That’s a very good thing for her life, obviously. The fact that she did not go to play the campaign and came here makes me feel very good. I got pretty excited when she told me that. What more can I say? I’m really happy that as a team we can make people happy.”

Valverde said he did not want to let go of Altuve.

“It’s something I’ll never forget,” he said. “That’s why I beat cancer, so I could be here.”

Valverde, who is a mother as well as a grandmother, has been a fan of the Astros for so long that she considers Puerto Rican José Cruz and Nolan Ryan as her favorite players from the past. But no one can match Altuve, who might be the most popular and successful player in franchise history.

“I will never forget this,” he finished.

Valverde said she plans to frame the shirt and posters so she can remember her meeting with Altuve, a meeting that means much more to her than meeting her favorite player. For Valverde, it was the end of a long battle against cancer and the beginning of a new life.

“It’s been a tough year,” he said. “It has been a battle with ups and downs. Besides, other things happened to me. I was laid off from my job and had no health insurance. It was hard, but I got through it and here I am. This is the best moment of my life.”

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First stop after overcoming cancer: meeting Altuve