It has taken me a very long time to open up to the public about my Cancer. To those who know me and to those who don't, I was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer back in November 2015. It has been such a hard road and I wish I could say it has gotten easier but it hasn't.
I am still going to my infusions and still copeing with the after effects. Besides the physical aftermaths, My Cancer has presented such a financial hardship on my family and it just seems to get harder.My family (husband, son, and daughter ) have sacrificed a lot without complaint but right now it's so difficult. I go to my church once a week and get food from the pantry. I am struggling with medical bills, co-pays and my medications and everyday expenses. Sometimes it becomes so overwhelming I just can't see straight.There really isn't too much help or resources for people like me who are sick with Cancer.So I decided to put my pride aside and make a ground campaign and ask for help.
It was only 6 months prior to me getting diagnosed, I was making great money and not struggling the way my family is now. It makes me feel very sad to know that my family struggles and goes without because of me. Never in my life did I ever see this coming. I am so grateful and feel so blessed for the support I have received whether it's a hug, a text message, or just to sit in the moment with me. Life has been so hard but also has allowed me to put things into perspective, and reevaluate priorities.
Many of you have offered a lending hand, but yet I did not know how to accept it. I, now am here asking for your help and ready to accept the help that's being offered. However, I am also ready to give something back to you, which is my Journey and how it all began. It seems so simple to just sit down and write this story of mine but I have been reluctant because that means I have to really face it. So please sit back, grab a drink and come walk with me through my journey.
In March of 2015, I was working for The Hertz Corporation in Smith Town, N.Y. selling cars. It was a high stressed job for me but I totally loved it. As time went on I noticed I was losing weight, and always thirsty.I chalked it up to running around selling cars. A few months later, around the first week of October 2015, I began to run a fever which persisted for about a week. Finally, it was a Saturday, I went to work and my boss told me enough is enough. He said " LuAnn you have insurance, go down the road to the mall to the "CITY-MD" clinic. So I did. I told the doctor I had been running a high fever for a week and masking it with Tylenol and Ibuprofen. Before I knew it I heard the Doctor say " Get Ruiz an ambulance, she's pouring sugars into her urine". I was like "What"? "What does that mean?. What that meant was that my sugars were in the 800"s when a person's sugars should be between 90-125. Oh my God!!! I had been running around as a type II diabetic and had not a clue. It still did not make sense to me why I had this on-going fever for a week. Well, they admitted me immediately and after running all sorts of tests it turned out I had a Sepsis-a severe blood infection that spreads via the bloodstream. Apparently, it all started with a UTI, I then had pneumonia in both lungs and a kidney abscess. I was pretty sick but never felt any of these symptoms only the fever. The diabetes was the culprit to it all.
I stood in the hospital for 10 days while given strong doses of antibiotics and fluids. The day before I was discharged, the doctors came in and said they noticed something abnormal under my left armpit, that the lymph nodes were really abnormal. They asked me if I ever had a mammogram but I was only 42 so I said "no". I was encouraged to immediately go have a mammogram, which turned into a biopsy. Still, the doctors made light of everything and made it seem like I was fine. I received the initial phone call at work about 5 days later. I was being silly with the Radiologist and cracking jokes until he finally stopped to give me the results. I will never forget the words " Mrs.Ruiz, the results of the biopsy came back positive but I think we found it early enough and you'll be ok. Still, those words changed my life forever.
I have never seen so many doctors in such a short time.This also included CT scans/MRI'S and a Pet Scan was done. After meeting with the Oncologist, and the breast surgeon they gave me the results of the scans.The results were not good at all. The PET scan "lit up". The tumor was (8.1 cent) in my left breast, but cancer also had spread already outside of my lymph nodes into both my lungs and my left adrenal gland. I could not grasp what was going on. How could a " We caught it early " to a "Stage IV breast cancer?".
The breast cancer I have is called Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) ER/PR-HER2+. The Cancer begins to grow in the milk duct and invades the surrounding tissue, HER2+ is a protein that stimulates the growth of cancer cells and is very aggressive. Is this real"? I questioned myself "Maybe they have the wrong person" is what I was thinking. "This can't be right" "I don't want to die". " Doctor, what is my prognosis," I asked? They really don't like to answer the statistic answers because for one there are many different drugs out there now and also every person is unique and responds differently to the Chemo.
However, I will not be eligible to have surgery or radiation. Chemo only. There is no cure for my cancer because it's not localized it's in my body. If it was localized meaning only in my breast than my chances would be better. He does not want to take the "obvious" meaning my breast but would rather just have me keep doing ongoing infusions. I have to live with cancer or shall I say I "allow it to live with me" and keep it dormant. The health issues are not just cancer but I also have to cope with my diabetes and my heart which is not pumping the way it should at my age.
I have many doctors that I must see monthly. To date, my kidneys are not working the way they should because of the chemo. Through it all, I do everything my doctors tell me to do but it takes a toll on both my physical and mental. I am suffering from anxiety and depression. Don't get me wrong, I try to be as positive as I can. My bones and muscles hurt, the fatigue is probably the worse of the side effects along with a side of nausea.
I have already missed so many days of work due to chronic fatigue and just feeling sick both physically and mentally. Right now I have been out of work for a month and now I will need to depend on FMLA and will be applying for short -term disability. I am not quitting in any way. I try my hardest every day to find peace and to remain hopeful and positive.
I am forever grateful for any donation you can provide. Thank you so much and God Bless.
- Sky Starr
- linda Stuurman
- June Keniston
- Gina Feddersen
- Roxana B
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