To be honest with you I feel pretty uncomfortable asking for help and writing about myself in this manner. But, recent circumstances (which I will explain more in this post) caused me to get over my pride and acknowledge that I really do need some help.
I want to especially thank my niece (and Godchild) Tatiana Suero, who was instrumental in starting this page, and my girlfriend Anne Desmarais who has not only led two fundraisers for me a few years back but even more importantly has been my day-in/day-out support in so many ways the last few years. She also had been encouraging me for awhile to share my story and reach out to others.
Thanks to Anne and Tatiana, in particular, and many others encouragement as well, I finally am reaching out and sharing my story.
In 2005, in a freak accident, I found out I had an incredibly rare type of bone cancer called chondrosarcoma. In 2006, I went through two extremely complicated and risky surgeries to try to save my left leg (tibia) which is where the cancer originated. I spent almost a year learning to walk on my then severely disabled leg but eventually became independent again with the help of my sister and her family.
Unfortunately, in 2008 my cancer came back far more seriously this time since the cancer had now metasticized to my lungs. I now had Stage 4 Cancer and my chances for survival were greatly reduced. In order to have a chance to survive, I had to take an almost unprecedented step, opting for the most aggressive combination of chemotherapy the doctors were authorized to give me.
This option carried great risks of potentially severe side effects with no guarantee of success at all. Yet, both my medical team (including my incredible oncologist Dr. David Harmon) and I agreed that this type of chemo probably gave me the best CHANCE of survival, even if that chance was not good.
For nearly two years, I had to endure an incredibly difficult chemotherapy regimen that took a great personal toll on me. However, I was able to persevere and to the pleasant surprise of my doctors the tumors in my lung barely grew.
However, over a year into chemo my leg had finally gone through too much and an infection threatened to rapidly spread throughout my body and so tragically after fighting for nearly 4 years to save my leg I spent Christmas morning recovering from having almost my entire left leg amputated.
Despite the emotional trauma, I was able to finish the next 7 months of chemo. Sadly, after the tentatively good news of the tumor hardly growing during my time on chemo, I began to suffer SEVERE "mysterious" stomach ailments for almost 3 years before they were finally diagnosed.
These stomach problems would literally cause me to alternate between being curled up in a fetal position in bed for sometimes hours, other times constipation that lasted as long as WEEKS at it's most extremes, vomiting off and on for hours. I have been hospitalized or seen in the ER multiple times over the last few years for this crippling stomach problem.
Finally, I was correctly diagnosed with Severe Gastroparesis, a mostly unknown to the public, uncurable stomach condition. It was this horrible, completely disabling (for many people) condition that caused me finally to stop my latest attempt to resume working in 2012-13.
While all the newfound challenges of Gastroparesis were dominating my life, cancer unfortunately did not give me a break either. I have had TWO major lung/chest surgeries in the last two years to remove multiple tumors that have grown back in my lungs. So far, these surgeries have removed the visible tumors in my body but the battle is potentially still a long ongoing one.
The last part of this "abbreviated" version of a VERY long struggle I am still undergoing is that along with the utter devastation done to my body between the cancer, amputation and now severe gastroparesis, my life has been absolutely shattered FINANCIALLY.
Nobody who knows me would say I was lazy or not a hard worker before I became sick. I was a professional with a Master's Degree in Communications before I got cancer. I had excellent grades throughout my years in school and before I was diagnosed with cancer I had won Saleperson of the Year for a successful fitness goods company (Road Runner Sports) for SEVEN straight years! (Sorry for the brag-but just trying to show I worked hard).
I was on the verge of buying my own home in California (as an individual). (Again, sorry for sounded conceited, I'm just trying to show that before all the health issues I had a track record as someone who managed my money well).
Then I got sick, not just for a little bit, or one severe incident, but over and over and over and over and over again. Some of the deadliest illnesses, conditions or health tragedies have ravaged my body almost non-stop for over 8.5 years and counting.
As if the health and psychological trauma haven't been enough, my disability income (which I've had to go on because of the severity of my health issues) essentially came to little more than 20% of the income I made the last 3 years working at Road Runner Sports.
Picture how you or anyone you know would survive if suddenly and unexpectedly you had your salarly slashed to almost 1/5 of what you make. How long would you last before your savings and rainy day funds were washed away? Weeks? Months? A year? Two?
Now, what if that happened to you for EIGHT AND A HALF YEARS (and counting). AND, what if at the same time as you suffered this long term, massive pay cut you simultaneously had TENS and TENS of THOUSANDS of medical bills AFTER your insurance had paid the amount they were willing to.
What would you do? What could you do?
Although, I am, generally speaking, a man with a lot of pride, I finally realized after a recent hospitalization in July 2014 for severe exhaustion combined with being notified that my social security benefits had been abruptly cut off with no warning because SS claims there was an overpayment, I now after ALL I've been through find myself in a position where I literally did not have enough money to pay my car, my RENT, and even my BASIC GROCERIES.
This is what it took for me finally get over my pride and accept the offer for help through gofundme from my family, girlfriend and friends.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. And, thank you so much for considering to help me to survive this latest crisis, in ANYWAY you can, no matter how small.
I sincerely thank you with all my heart.
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