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Maintaining with grace, strength and love
La Voz photos by Robert Martin

By Joshua Pilkington

Mother’s Day Makeover winner Sara Cortez-Bustos tells her story of love and loss.

Sara Cortez-Bustos is not a household name, but she is one of the strongest heads of household you may encounter. Having lost her husband two months ago to cancer, she has been forced to take on the challenging task of raising her two children without his support. That she has done so with humility and strength is one of the many reasons she received over a dozen nominations for La Voz’s Mother’s Day Makeover.

Raised in North Denver near Regis University, Cortez-Bustos is a Colorado native. She grew up with one older brother and her mom and dad in what she describes as a traditional family. When asked about her own relationship with her mother the graduate of Westminster High School and Front Range Community College said that she can’t cite a specific memory, but there are several that stand out to her.

“The most memorable thing about my mom growing up is her love of family,” said Cortez-Bustos. “All the family dinners with tons of food, the birthday parties with three different kinds of cake, the poker parties before they were ‘cool’, the volleyball games…just any occasion for everyone to get together was always at my parents. And my mom was always the best hostess.”

Cortez-Bustos now works as an administrative assistant to support her own family. She has a 19-year-old daughter, Lydia, and a 15-year-old stepson, Brandin, both of whom changed her life for the better.

“I was so very happy when I found out that I was going to be a mom,” she said. “Super excited.”

She added that the birth of her daughter changed her life in ways she did not expect.

“Everything changed when my daughter was born,” Cortez-Bustos said. “Your whole outlook on life changes. You can’t believe how much you can love this tiny human being and all you want to do is protect them from the world.”

Cortez-Bustos welcomed the addition of her son to the family a decade ago and has raised him as her own since.

“I became a full-time stepmom 10 years ago,” she said. “He has no contact with his biological mom, so he has been mine since he was 5. It has been challenging at times, but I cannot imagine not having him in my life. I love him more than I ever knew was possible.”

For 10 years Cortez-Bustos had the traditional, nuclear family similar to the one she grew up with. Unfortunately, it did not last as on March 4, 2017 her husband, Corey Bustos, passed away at age 38 from cancer. With the passing so recent, Cortez-Bustos understandably chose not to go into detail about the illness or the days leading up to her husband’s passing; she did, however, discuss how she has kept moving forward since.

“My parents, cousins and a close group of friends have been my support system,” she said. “The kids and I cope by talking, laughing, crying and remembering – just trying to make our way through one day at a time.”

Cortez-Bustos is not unique in her situation or in her challenges, but she has managed it with grace, strength and love.

“The only advice I would give anyone is to love as much as you can today,” she said for those who have gone through or are going through similar difficulties. “Your whole life can literally change in the blink of an eye.”

The Mother’s Day Makeover is an annual tradition at
La Voz. For more information on how to nominate a mother deserving of this recognition, visit La Voz online at or call 303-936-8556.





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