My name is Kristin Rivera. In July 2011, my dad, Anthony Rivera, started having severe stomach pain. My mom took him to urgent care, where they told him he had the stomach flu and sent him back home. A month later, he was at the emergency room with the same complaint. They again sent him home with a diagnosis of stomach flu. He scheduled a follow up appointment with his doctor and was told not to worry. My mother found another doctor who decided to perform an upper GI and colonoscopy. The doctor determined my dad had an egg-sized tumor on his small intestines and part of his colon.
In September 2011, he had surgery to determine how much of his body was being affected by the tumor. My mom waited in the lobby for eight long hours. Doctors went through his belly button with three cameras on different sides and found the tumor had spread. They removed the tumor (which was now the size of a grapefruit), the appendix, the small intestine, and part of his colon. The doctor referred him to several more oncologists in Arizona, where my dad was officially diagnosed with Carcinoid Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs). This rare cancer is terminal, but it spreads through slow-growing tumors that attach themselves to main organs in the body.
Since that surgery, my dad has had nonstop treatments, MRIs and CT body scans every three months, and he takes monthly cancer medications that he will have to take for the rest of his life. His cancer has since spread to the bone in his right shoulder, which he has recently had replaced, and a year after the initial surgery, doctors determined he has another tumor growing on the head of his pancreas. Doctors have advised us that the pancreatic tumor is inoperable because his chances of surviving the dangerous surgery are slim to none. He receives his cancer treatments here in Arizona, but my mom has to take my dad back and forth from Arizona to California every three months to his Carcinoid Tumor Specialist to monitor his cancer and attempt to stifle the spreading as much as possible.
In the past 12 months, he has had the shoulder replacement, a knee replacement, and hand surgery, all while undergoing cancer treatment. The cancer also affected his heart, and he had to have a cardiac ablation in three different areas of his heart. Just a few months ago, my dad’s pancreatic tumor spread, forcing him to become a fully blown, insulin dependent diabetic. On top of all of this, there are co-pays and medical bills that the insurance company won’t cover. My mom is disabled and has had to be his primary caretaker through all of this. They already lived on a fixed income and have now had the unexpected financial struggle of this illness. My parents are struggling—mentally, physically, and spiritually.
In talking with my dad, there are three primary goals I hope to meet with this fundraiser:
1. To pay off the rest of the mortgage, so my dad no longer has to worry about what will happen to his family when the time comes: $54,000. (or to pay down the mortgage).
2. To pay off the outstanding medical bills that insurance will not cover: $45,000. on going medical bills
3. To take one last family trip together while we still have the time. We have not been on a family vacation for 15 years. He would like us to visit Puerto Rico with him because it is where his family is from, and we have never been. This would cover airfare, lodging, food, etc. for 6 people: $6,000.
I do not know how much time I have with my dad. I know that is a lot of money to ask for, and I also know how hard it is to ask. My parents have been struggling through this without help for a long time now, and I want to see what other help is available to them. I also recently got engaged, and in these moments where life is most precious, I realize I have no idea if my dad will make it to my wedding. That is a very hard thought to swallow, but I’m hoping with the time we do have now, we can raise enough money to help him and my mom work through the current struggles and cross whatever bridges lie ahead when we come to them.
Thank you so much.
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