LELA the Pig helps 18-year old brain cancer patient

LELA the Pig has helped many different charities, big and small. When the story of Nicole Rochin from Mazatlan came to our ears, we were deeply moved and decided that LELA the Pig would support this young woman in her struggle against brain cancer. Here is her story:

Nicole RochínHello Dancing Chefs,

My name is Nicole Rochín and I just turned 18 years old in the summer of 2013, on July 3rd. Soon after that, I started feeling sick with very strong headaches. I went to the ISSSTE, which is a government hospital in Mazatlán. I got an IV, was given some medicine and I was sent home with the diagnosis of a migraine. Days later nothing had gotten better; the headaches were going from bad to worse and it had become unbearable. I wasn’t able to hold in any food and I wasn’t hungry either. I went back to the hospital two more times and they gave me the same diagnosis.

I went back to the E.R. on July 22nd. This time however the doctors noticed that in addition to my headache, I didn’t have much balance and I was unable to walk a straight line. They checked me into the hospital to run some tests because they couldn’t give me a reason as to why I was having all these problems with a simple migraine. The doctor asked for a C.T. scan and found that my unbearable pain was caused by my skull being filled with fluid which my body was producing as a defense mechanism against a tumor close to my cerebellum.

NicoleI finally got a diagnosis!!! Unfortunately, Mazatlán’s ISSSTE doesn’t have the equipment to remove the tumor, and on top of everything else, my family doesn’t have the resources to put me in a private hospital. So instead of one major surgery, I had to get two surgeries. One to place a valve that would drain the liquid out of my skull and a second to remove the tumor.

The same day I was schedule for the first surgery. Early morning on July 23rd, I got the first surgery where they place a valve. Thank God everything went well. The unbearable headaches were finally a thing of the past. I got my balance and appetite back also.

Unfortunately, the Public Health System lacks of a lot of services and equipment, especially in a small town like Mazatlán. Mexico City was the only place I could get the next surgery.

So I had to start the process to get on a waiting list to get a date for the second surgery. By August 7th my mom and I were in Mexico City and I was in the hospital waiting for my turn to get the surgery. During that time the tumor had started messing with my body again. I lost strength and mobility in my right side because of the pressure the tumor was putting on the nerves due to its growth.

On August 12th I was finally on my way to the O.R. The surgery lasted seven hours. The good news is that I survived and I didn’t have any brain damage. The bad news is that due to the location they weren’t able to remove all of it and that it is a Medulloblastoma (a highly malignant brain tumor that originates in the cerebellum).

Within a month my life and priorities had changed completely. Now I had to recover and focus on getting radiotherapy and chemotherapy. I had to set aside my first semester at the University and now I’m in Mexcio City waiting to start the treatment. ISSSTE has a high demand from patients, very little personnel and lack of space, so the wait to get tested, treatment or even medicine takes forever. Sadly, cancer is not the kind of illness that will wait for ISSSTE to have time, space, resources or personnel to start developing. I’m aware that in order to win this battle I have to be treated fast!

For that reason, I’ve been getting some tests in private institutions like M.R.I. and topographies, each test ranging from $5,000 to $8,000 pesos. I have to get them every four to six weeks. I don’t have any family in Mexico City, so having my mom with me has turned into a financial struggle.

nicole rochinI have to attend a Neuropsychologist to get evaluated for any possible damage produced by the surgery or the treatment, but I’ve been putting it off because money has been running really low and each consultation is about $1,000 pesos. Frequently the medication I get prescribed has run out at ISSSTE’s drugstore and I have to buy them myself.

Right now I’m waiting for my turn to start radiotherapy and chemotherapy. I constantly go to the hospital (ISSSTE) to check if I have a date set up, but nothing yet. I’m always hoping next week will be the lucky one and I will get a date.

Words can not express the gratitude I feel for all the support that you gave me this month. I really appreciate all and each of your donations, this is very meaningful to me and my family. With the help of God I’ll be strong enough to continue this journey. This will not keep me from smiling and enjoy my life. Thank you so much. I’ll keep you all in my heart.


Nicole Rochín.


Run LELA run…..

In the wake of the Ironman in Cozumel and the Maraton Pacifico in Mazatlan, Dancing Chef Stephanie shares her story about being healthy. We are very proud to present our $890 USD donation to Fred’s Team that was collected by LELA in October 2012.

Dancing Chef Stephanie’s road to the top

On January 8th of this year I took a decision that took me 22 years to take… that’s kind of hard to believe isn’t it??

I was born as a healthy baby with normal weight, but as a toddler I developed asthmatic bronchitis, this lead to several complications that took me in and out of the hospital several times as a kid. The doctor’s recommendation was no running or any kind of activity that will give me a good work out, plus lots of medicine that included cortisone. Those two of course plus the pampering of my parents took me straight to being an obese child.

During my adolescence I wanted to drop weight and look good, I tried several different diets but again very little to no exercise. I dropped some weight but never got to my ideal size. I don’t want to sound like weight was all it was in my mind, but as a child and adolescence bullying affects you psychologically a lot and makes your defects stand out every day. When I got out of high school I focused more in my schooling and let go on my strict diet which made me gain back the weight I lost.

This year I decided it was enough; I was not going to let anyone tell me I couldn’t do something I needed to do for myself. I signed up at the gym without knowing what to expect and committed with myself to do cardio for 1hr a day, at least 5 days a week, which I did for the first 3 months. Those months were rough, I felt like my lungs were too weak, my heart was going to pop out my chest and my legs wouldn’t stop hurting ever. It was definitely a struggle every day to get out of my bed and go do it. I was losing some weight but my skin wasn’t going back to its place properly so after researching I realized I had to get a personal trainer to start doing weights. Well that was scary because all my life I thought that if I did that I was going to look bulky and my body will turn manlish. It happens to be totally opposite if you have a professional by your side that knows your problematic areas that you really want to work out and make firm, you will focus on that.

By April I started personalized routines with my trainer who is amazing. I’m not going to lie they were a totally different challenge from my regular everyday cardio, but I was focussed on what I had to get done and always felt so proud to go from the person on the couch watching TV to this very active person. I was feeling better, I had more energy and I noticed I wasn’t getting sick every month like I used to. About every month I had a cold, cough, allergies or flu, suddenly I was off any kind of medication.

In summer time I started having knee problems which I have always had, but I guess the regular work out made it more noticeable. I went to the doctor to check on that and his first recommendation was no more working out. “But why???”  especially if I was feeling so well.  He gave me medication and pulled me out of the gym for a week, which made me feel awful mentally and physically. I had a goal that I was managing to keep and again my health was going to stop me. Well, I called my trainer and she said she has had several clients that have been injured somehow and they just work around it, making sure that you don’t overdo that part of your body. So I got back to the gym and I haven’t stop ever since. I try to do 7 days a week but if I do 5 I feel like I’m still following what I was committed to.

My lungs are stronger, my attitude is more positive and I feel so proud of myself. If you are going to work out I would recommend you to get a personal trainer that will guide you through very good routines as well as take care of you while training. Just so you know I have not gotten to my goal weight but I’m sure pushing it every day to make that happen, I want stay healthy for myself and my loved ones.


Dancing Chef Stephanie

“Care for today, hope for tomorrow”

In the beginning of this summer we had two guests, Rodolfo and Becca, visit “The Original Salsa and Salsa tour,” in Mazatlan. Dancing Chef Maaike is quick to make friends and conversation. At the show she discovered that the couple had just moved to Mazatlan in order to develop a new location for their organization called Back2Back Ministries. Back2Back Ministries is a faith based organization who help needy orphans in different locations. They currently have missions in USA, India, Nigeria and Mexico. When the Dancing Chefs heard of this, we knew that Back2Back Ministries would be a perfect candidate for Salsa L.E.L.A.’s charity of the month.


Salsa L.E.L.A. picked Back2Back Ministries for the month of June, 2012. We managed to collect a total of $906.00 USD for this special cause. What was most exciting was that Dancing Chef Maaike, Dancing Chef Leonique and myself, Dancing Chef Melissa were able to present the check in person to Rodolfo and Becca. It was a meeting full of stories exchanged, and lots of laughter. In this meeting they also had the chance to explain how the money would be spent.

Back2Back Ministries’ location in Mazatlan is in the beginning process of development.  They need a lot of support at the moment.  At this time they are working with a ranch for disabled orphans called “Rancho de Los Ninos”. Unfortunately the ranch has had several break-ins. Safety is the top priority for the children and for this reason the biggest need is at the moment is building a perimeter wall to prevent any more break-ins. The money that Salsa Lela has donated will be assisting in making this happen!


Salsa Lela and the Dancing Chefs are ecstatic to be supporting such a wonderful cause like Back2Back Ministries. Salsa Lela gives a variety of different causes the opportunity to complete critical goals that need to be met. Pay it Forward!


Dancing Chef Melissa

Lela embraces the children of HOPE Landing, Arkansas

Children are the most honest and inquisitive creatures walking the earth . They embrace life with such candor and passion, that we adults could often learn from them.

Last month a guest from Salsa and Salsa Cozumel contacted us about LELA. She suggested that LELA should support her favorite charity HOPE Landing.  HOPE Landing, in South Arkansas, is bringing HOPE and PURPOSE to the lives of children with disabilities by helping them achieve their potential.   

The great thing about HOPE Landing is that 5 women stepped up and said whether Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance pays or not, if the children need it to progress, we need to do our best to provide it.  HOPE Landing provides many non-traditional but proven effective therapies for children:  equine therapy, aquatic therapy, therapy through massage, therapy through drama, summer camp, educational tutoring and many others that can more fully be comprehended by visiting their website www.hopelanding.com. These services are provided regardless of a parent’s ability to pay…..many times at HOPE Landing’s expense.  Of course traditional therapy is provided also. 

The concept of HOPE Landing touched the hearts of all the Dancing Chefs and we decided to help spread the word. We’re convinced that in this way HOPE Landing can connect with other people that understand how important each and every person is and that we all need a little help sometimes.  During the month of September LELA collected $367USD, which will be used in all the different therapies at the facility.

Paws up for the Dancing Chefs!

It’s no secret that all the Dancing Chefs are big animal lovers! We already supported the pets from Joplin, which were victims of the tornado in May. Sadly enough in Mexico there are many street dogs and cats that have to fend for themselves. In Los Cabos for instance, there is no governmental agency to address the problem of homeless domestic animals living on the streets.

Luckily the Los Cabos Humane Society has taken it upon itself to promote the humane treatment of domestic animals through education, pet population control, rescue and adoption. In 2010 they performed 3100 surgeries (580 more than was budgeted!), 352 total adoptions, educated over 1500 local school children and made several much needed improvements to the Centre. This year they have a very ambitious goal of sterilizing 6000 animals in the Los Cabos area and they will be setting up a “mobile clinic” in San Jose neighborhoods working in conjunction with Servicios Publicos (department that cleans the city). Their operating budget in 2010 was $21,500 USD per month. For 2011 they have budgeted 23,200 per month to help them reach this year’s goals.

We are pleased to announce that Lela the Donating Pig has collected $327USD to allow the Los Cabos Humane Society to continue their wonderful labour.


Dancing Chef Heidi from Cabo has her own personal connection with the Los Cabos Humane Society. Here’s a photo of Heidi with her cats “Kaliman” (L) and “Zsa Zsa” (R)… It might not be the greatest shot but it’s not easy to photograph cats who don’t want to be photographed haha (as you can probably tell by the way Kaliman is trying to claw his way to freedom!)


She brought Kaliman home from the shelter when he was about two years old. A year later, she found Zsa Zsa living in a tree next to her apartment (she was only about 4-6 weeks old at the time). So, she took her in and the two have been in love with each other ever since (just check out the photo hehe) 🙂


During the month of September LELA is collecting funds for the HOPE Landing foundation in Arkansas. We will keep you posted on our Facebook page. Looking at all those LELA pictures of September, it will be a great month!


Dancing Chef Maaike

‘I may not speak but I have much to say.’ – Angelman Syndrome Foundation

After a couple of months of summer heat, we get back  in touch with all you Dancing Chefs to report on the LELA cause for July 2011. A close friend asked us to support the Angelman Syndrome Foundation (www.angelman.org), which we gladly agreed to. We want to thank all the Dancing Chefs in Cozumel, Cabo and Mazatlan who helped us collect a total of $435USD!

Angelman Syndrome (AS) is a neuro-genetic disorder that occurs in 1 in 15,000 live births. AS is often misdiagnosed as cerebral palsy or autism. Characteristics of AS include; developmental delay, lack of speech, seizures, and walking and balance disorders. Individuals with Angelman Syndrome will require life-long care.

It fills our hearts with pride that all your bills and coins go to a wonderful cause. The Development Director of the Angelman Syndrome Foundation, Eloise Crabb sent us an email to especially thank you:

”This is just tremendous! Thank you so much for choosing us as your cause to support in July. How wonderful and we are most appreciative to you. 
 Again, thank you very much.”


The coming days we will open up LELA at our 3 locations, to see what she has collected for August’s cause: the Cabo Humane Society.

Hasta pronto!!!!

Dancing Chef Maaike

Dancing Chefs reach out to Tuscaloosa, Alabama

On April 27th a large violent tornado came through Tuscaloosa, destroying many homes and companies. In the hours after the storm, many DCH employees who were not on duty, even some affected by the storm, reported to DCH Regional Medical Center to respond to the more than 900 people being treated. Over 200 employees suffered losses too and still didn’t hesitate to help out others.

The Dancing Chefs decided that these care-givers should receive support for their selfless deeds. And there was a big response from the guests of Salsa and Salsa in Mazatlan, Cozumel and Cabo San Lucas. LELA the Donating Pig collected $640USD in total during the month of May, which was deposited to the M*A*S*H* Fund for DCH Health System employees.

Every one of you who contributed to this cause, should feel very proud of themselves. With your donation you joined the DCH family in this time of need and helped them pull together. With this video all the employees who were affected thank you for your help.

The end of June is coming closer and shortly we will be able to announce how much donations we’ve collected for this month. LELA’s little legs have brought her to Joplin, Missouri to help out the Humane Society to give shelter to pets who were lost in the tornado. All the Dancing Chefs are big animal lovers, so this cause lies close to our hearts. Stay tuned for our next blog post.


Dancing Chef Maaike

Lela is held back, but finally comes through

As most of you already know, Lela II was born in Cozumel back in December 2010. Her first mission was ambitious, but we wanted to come in with a bang! For the months of December, January and February, Lela collected donations for a Blood Bank on the island of Cozumel– her new hometown.

Guests from Mazatlan,Cozumel and our new location Los Cabos rallied together to raise a tremendous $3117USD for all three months!

Our goal was to get through all the red tape – opening a blood bank was a much more ambitious task than expected, and we did everything in our power to achieve this goal. After months of meetings, negotiations, arguments with government officials and more, our Blood Bank proposal was rejected by the state of Quintana Roo and we had to abandon the idea of opening a Blood Bank.

We pondered, and ummmed, and ahhhed and wondered what to do…then it hit us – let’s sit down with Red Cross Cozumel and see where Lela’s donation could be best put to work! So, after looking at their big picture, S

alsa and Salsa, along with Lela, Lela II and Lela III (hehehe) decided your donations would have to SAVE LIVES!

As it would have done with the Blood Bank, your donations went towards the purchase to two necessary pieces of equipment for the volunteer work of the Red Cross in Cozumel. You’ll be proud to know your donation went t


wards an EKG machine and a defibrillator. Both machines will be used in the 5 ambulances which Red Cross has on the island. The defibrillator has already save a man’s life and both machines will help hundreds of people more!

The Red Cross in Mexico runs solely on donations, with no government support. When we approached the Director for Red Cross Cozumel, Mr Dagoberto, with our idea, he thanked us with a hug which I can only describe as being the warmest, most appreciative hug I have ever experienced in my life. The machines have arrived to Cozumel, and Red Cross wants to thank each and every one of you,  thanks to your kind and generous help – you’ve done something that will truly make a difference to this island – and it is something that will last forever.

Thank you one and all – and we look forward to hearing from you.

Dancing Chef – Cozumel

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