Cori hopes the sudden weight loss she is experiencing has more to do with her stress and daily routine than her genetics – but her doctors aren't so sure.
The mother of three recently lost 9 pounds in three weeks without really trying, and doctors still can't explain why the 26-year-old's blood pressure skyrocketed.
"They asked for a cancer genetics exam because my mom and grandma had cancer and it came out badly during an annual pap smear, so they ask me about it," she said in Spanish on Wednesday. "And now I have doubts because the doctor says it's not a good thing for me to lose weight for no reason."
Cori's health problems, however, seem to be the least of the concerns. Instead, she's more focused on making sure her three daughters, ages 8, 6, and 4, are well cared for, learn, and happy.
Cori is the epitome of mother goose: wherever she goes, they go.
"People always find it strange when they are not with me," she said on Friday with a big smile. "They always ask me," What about the girls? "
In the beginning it was mostly out of survival – a maternal instinct to protect her daughters.
Cori said she spent nearly eight years in an abusive relationship with her ex-husband, the father of her three daughters, and lived in what she described as sheer chaos.
"We couldn't even go into the living room with him. You couldn't run if he was home – nothing," she said of her children. "We were locked in the room when he was home. And I thought," What for a life is that for her? "
About a year and a half ago, Cori took a leap of faith and left him.
“I decided to be alone and not suffer so much with my daughters because I saw that I ended up like my mother-in-law, his mother. She was also a victim in the hands of her husband, my ex-husband's father. He killed her, ”Cori said. "So these problems came along and every time I felt myself (the abuse) it got more and more."
The murder of her mother-in-law, which also resulted in the death of another man in Cameron County, was well documented by local media including The Monitor's sister newspaper, The Brownsville Herald.
"He thought my mother-in-law was with another man and he killed them both," Cori said.
The last time Cori's ex-husband attacked her in June 2019, police told her that if she didn't bring a charge, the state would do so due to the severity of her injuries.
"He tried to strangle me and I got the feeling, 'That's it – it's only a matter of time before I end up like my mother-in-law," she said, holding back tears.
The decision to come out alone with her three daughters was difficult but worthy, she said on Friday.
"I knew I was going to fight, but I preferred to take that risk," she said. "And thank God, I'm fine now. I'm alive."
A Christmas ornament hangs on the tree while the children in Mission sit near the family home on Friday. (Joel Martinez | firstname.lastname@example.org)
A NEW BEGINNING
After Cori and her daughters were discharged from hospital due to their serious injuries, they lived 45 days at the Mujeres Unidas shelter.
Then they started to live like gypsies, she said, and moved from one place to another.
"It was a total adventure. We moved eight times," she said.
Making ends meet and paying the rent was the toughest job of all. Cori is not allowed to work in the US, has no family here and the separation took place in the summer of 2019, so her girls could not stay in the safest place for them outside of their home: at school.
"I needed a job and I knew I had to work, but I had no place to leave my daughters, someone to trust," she said. "And so I always came and went with my daughters."
At one point, Cori and her girls began baking and selling chocoflan, a Mexican dessert cake, in church and outside of stores like Walmart.
"I had never done it before," she recalled with a laugh. "It was my first job as a single mother."
During this time Cori and her girls found refuge in the church.
"I think I found my peace here – as if I could make it," she said. "And I think that was my best decision – to focus on church and take my daughters with me."
The Church has also led them to a family that has restored their faith in humanity.
During a meeting of the local groups in her church, a woman came up to her whom Cori did not know.
"I see you are always up and down with your children," said the woman to Cori. "Do you want a job?"
The woman had cleaned the home of a prominent Indian family for many years, but was about to leave her post and her gracious employers were looking for a replacement. Cori accepted the offer and started working with the family earlier this year.
At first, language barriers prevented Cori from developing meaningful relationships with the woman of the house and her husband who own a medical clinic in the Rio Grande Valley.
But then COVID-19 struck Cori and when the family visited her at her run-down trailer to check on her, they were surprised by the conditions in which she was living.
"Every time it rained, it got wet," Cori said.
And because the coronavirus had made her unable to work for about two months, she was soon evicted from this trailer too.
Cori then moved into a friend's house and resumed work with the Indian family, with whom she learned to communicate via Google Translate.
One day the family asked her to clean a nearby house. Cori thought it was a strange request, but she did it anyway. Then she noticed that the family was buying things like plate sets for three children and one adult. Then came a microwave, then a refrigerator, stove, and other large appliances.
She found it strange again, but never let her imagination run wild. Instead, she kept working to create better lives for her girls and move forward.
On September 9, the Cori family and their girls asked to meet them at the house they were supposed to clean beforehand. It turned out that the family had rented it for them and equipped it with all the necessary furniture and appliances.
"I couldn't believe it," a grateful Cori recalled Friday from her living room, where a picture of the Taj Mahal is prominently displayed. "I don't know how these angels came into my life – you and all your family."
One of the children walks past the family home on mission on Friday. (Joel Martinez | email@example.com)
Cori is still being tested at the family's doctor's office to determine the cause of her weight loss and high blood pressure. However, it remains positive.
"I work a lot," she said, almost as if trying to justify the weight loss. "There are days when I don't sit down and go up and down, up and down all day."
Still, the 111-pound woman is 20 pounds below her ideal weight.
"It's a lot," she said. "I think it's all of the stress and worry."
But despite their health problems and everything else that life has thrown on them, Cori and the girls are happy, she said.
"It's very difficult, but they are doing very well right now. They don't even miss him," she said of her ex-husband. "They tell me," Ay mamita , we are so happy without dad. "
And while she finally feels she has found a home, Cori worries about her future. She fears that she is a burden to the lovable family who have given them more than they ever imagined.
“I have to think about the future because nothing lasts forever. And I know this is some help they give me, but I don't really know how long, ”she said with a touch of concern in her voice.
To help this family and others, call the United Way of South Texas at (956) 686-6331 between 8:00 am and 3:00 pm. Monday through Friday, and inquire about contributing to the Spirit of Christmas campaign. Due to COVID-19, only monetary donations are accepted for families in need.