Life couldn’t be much better for Robert Guerrero.
The 31-year-old Gilroy, California, native and former 147-pound champion is in the midst of training camp as he prepares to fight Keith Thurman on the inaugural Premier Boxing Champions card in Las Vegas on March 7.
More importantly, his wife, Casey, just celebrated the fifth anniversary of a bone marrow transplant that not only helped her defeat cancer but also saved her life.
“It’s been five years, and what a true blessing this is with how everything played out. Faith has played the biggest part in this whole process,” Guerrero said. “Putting God first and putting it in God’s hands was how we knew our family would deal with and eventually overcome this adversity.
“I was always positive, and believed that God was there for us and he would bless Casey to get through this. We are able to take this and truly inspire others, and show them we are a fighting family.”
While the Guerreros are celebrating Casey’s triumph, her battle against cancer certainly wasn’t an easy one. Casey was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2007.
After multiple rounds of chemotherapy didn’t work, she was advised by doctors in 2010 that her condition had worsened to the point where finding a matching bone marrow donor was her only hope for survival.
Guerrero surrendered his world title and what would have been the biggest bout of his career (a title fight against Michael Katsidis) to be by his high school sweetheart’s side and take care of their two children.
After a matching donor couldn’t be made with family members, the Guerreros turned to to an international marrow donor registry in hopes of saving Casey.
Soon their prayers were answered when a match was made with a young woman in Germany.
But even with the match, Stanford University doctors stressed caution, giving Casey a 50-50 chance the surgery would be successful.
Months after the transfusion put Casey on the road to recovery, she began a new journey—to learn the identity of the donor who had saved her life.
The privacy restrictions involving the donor were lifted after two years, and Casey was able to locate the woman she now calls her “sister,” Katharina Zech, a college student in Munich, Germany, whose grandfather had died of cancer.
His death inspired Zech to become a donor.
“For her to save my wife's life from so far away is just incredible,” Guerrero told the San Jose Mercury News in 2012 after Casey met Zech for the first time. “And now they've become such good friends. They both are such nice people. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they basically have the same blood."
While Guerrero was in the gym training, Casey, their children and Casey’s parents took a celebratory trip to Miami.
The occasion marked a joyous celebration for the Guerreros, but the anniversary is also a reminder to Guerrero that his family’s faith can help them overcome any obstacle.
“It truly is a blessing in what you can take from some type of adversity or tragedy that comes your way,” said Guerrero, who posted a montage of Casey’s fight on his Instagram page.
“It’s how you come out of it and what you do with it that is the ultimate test of one’s character. This experience was an incredible journey, and it’s one that has me ready to overcome anything.”
- Robert Guerrero