Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is able to breathe on her own, her doctor said at a news conference this morning that included dramatic accounts from relatives of victims in Saturday's shooting spree.

Neurosurgeon G. Michael Lemole Jr. said Giffords remained on a breathing machine, but noted that that was to help in her recovery.

He said Giffords' medical condition will change over weeks and asked that people be patient in wanting to know how she is improving.

"She's on her own schedule," he said.

Bill Hileman, whose wife Susan took their young neighbor to see Giffords at an outdoor meeting with constituents on at a Safeway on Tucson's northwest side, said his wife was holding hands with 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green when they were shot.

The two were waiting to shake hands with Giffords when investigators say Jared Lee Loughner opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol. Six people were killed in the attack and 14 more were wounded.

Susan Hileman was shot three times. Christina-Taylor was killed.

Susan and Christina-Taylor "were generationally apart, but birds of one feather," Hileman said at the news conference. "Going to Gabby's event (together) made all kinds of sense, it was a positive female role model for Christina."

Bill Hileman said in the past couple of days, his wife has had flashbacks of the shooting and wakes up screaming "Christina, Christina, let's get out of here."

Susan Hileman remained in fair condition at University Medical Center. Her first question was about Christina-Taylor, her husband said. They told her Christina-Taylor had died, her husband said Tuesday, adding he was glad she was medicated at that moment.

Both families said they were grateful for the support from the community and the staff at UMC.

Relatives of Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard said they were grateful to the many heroes who jumped to action when gunfire erupted during a gathering outside a grocery store for Giffords.

Dorwan Stoddard was killed in the attack. He knocked Mavy to the the ground, shielding her body with his own. She was struck several times by gunfire but survived.

"It was a beautiful way to say goodbye," said Penny Wilson, who spoke at the press conference with sister Angela Robinson.

The sisters said their parents had a wonderful life together. They were boyfriend and girlfriend in the 6th grade in Tucson first and met again 15 years ago after both their spouses passed away, Wilson and Robinson said.

Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard married after they were reunited.

Mavy remains at UMC and is "very aware of everything that happened," Wilson said. She is one of the two patients remaining in fair condition.