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A beloved San Antonio artist fights cancer as community comes together in support

Jesse Treviño underwent a 15-hour surgery in Houston and is now embarking on a recovery journey.

SAN ANTONIO — A beloved San Antonio artist was on the community's mind at a Wednesday prayer service as he battles illness elsewhere in the state. 

Jesse Treviño's niece, Claudia Treviño-García, told KENS 5 her uncle is doing well after a 15-hour surgery in Houston removed a cancerous tumor from his jaw. He's surrounded by close family this week. 

She said his first words after surgery were to loved ones: "I love you."

A few dozen community members joined in prayer at one of the iconic San Antonio spots Treviño created, the La Veladora mural which adorns the walls of the west side's Guadalupe Theater. Treviño, a Vietnam War veteran, lost his right arm in the conflict—the same one he used to paint. 

He had to learn to instead paint with his left arm. Decades later, it hasn't hindered his talent.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said Treviño is a fighter who embodies what it means to be alive with the soul of the community. Treviño represents the city with pride. 

One of his most recognized pieces is the downtown mural at CHRISTUS Health, The Children's Hospital of San Antonio. It depicts a boy holding a white dove, protected by a guardian angel. Treviño's work has even earned a place in the Smithsonian.  

His niece was moved by the outpouring of love and support. She said it means so much to gather at a spot her uncle brought to life.

"It is just coming full circle that it is now her turn to watch over him," she said. "He built this here because he said, 'I want the virgen to watch over everybody in my barrio.' And now she is here with the barrio, watching over him."

Treviño-García said that, before the surgery, all her uncle asked for was that people pray for him. His road to recovery is expected to be a long one.

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