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William Echeverria

The definition of Cancer: 

Cancer is a complex group of diseases characterized by the abnormal growth and spread of cells. These abnormal cells can invade and destroy healthy tissues in the body. Cancer can arise from various factors, including genetic mutations.

 What this definition is missing, or it doesn’t tell you, is that cancer is a sickness that first helps people who love you rally around you, show you unconditional love, and serve you. It also doesn’t mention you will be very uncomfortable while getting treatments. It doesn’t tell you that nights are long and lonely and that’s when pain is unbearable.

Life is a mystery, we are here for a reason, and we know that this life is part of a grand plan. As we live we experience setbacks that help us to be better people; Some of these setbacks may be economic, health, etc. As we go through life we know that at some point we will encounter opposition, so we prepare for what’s coming our way, but we never plan for something like cancer, at least not me.

I was for sure not ready to hear the words "You have a one in a million cancer!”

I don’t think I grasped what the oncologist was telling me, I didn’t fully understand what I was fighting until a few weeks ago. But through all of this, I’ve had the love of my wife, my kids, and my family and friends, and it’s been humbling to see their love towards me.

2023 was an interesting year, Glenda and I found out we were expecting our 8th child, and while we rejoiced, we also knew it was going to be a hard pregnancy because Glenda's blood pressure gets too high, and we always run the risk of her getting pre-eclampsia. While this was going on, my regular doctor told me I had a hernia and I had to get surgery to get it repaired (this was during April). 

After I got my Hernia repaired, I felt great for 2 weeks, but then I started to get lower back pain so I had to get back to my doctor. He was a bit puzzled; It took from April to the end of October and a bunch of tests later to find out I had cancer. While this was going on, Glenda's pregnancy was entering the critical stages. It got bad enough that the last week of September she had to be life-flighted from Centerville to St. Marks. The doctors decided that the baby needed to be delivered.

They waited a few days, but on September 30 our baby Esther was delivered at 30 weeks, only weighing 3 lbs. We knew she had to spend time in the NICU. Since her due date was in December, we knew Esther was going to have to stay in the hospital until then. Naturally, these months were hard on us because while Glenda had to deliver milk to Esther and make the drive multiple times a day, I was already undergoing CT scans, MRIs, etc. So not only did we not see each other much due to the schedule, it became very hard all around. Glenda had to drive from one hospital to the other and then we found out Esther had a heart murmur that needed to be monitored. A lot was going on.

In October I received the news that I had cancer, no one had told me yet what kind of cancer I had. Finally, in December I was told by my oncologist that I had stage 4 bone cancer. This cancer is rare enough that there are only a few people that have it. The cancer was also causing my blood pressure to be super high and my heartbeat to beat faster than usual, so I not only had to deal with cancer but also with being labeled as having "heart failure."

The other thing the oncologist told us was that I had to get my kids tested because it was a genetic kind of cancer. Out of our 8 children, 4 are positive (and that includes our now 6-year-old). This has been particularly hard. It's especially hard because Neffi, our six-year-old is such a sweet boy full of love, and to know he can get sick like me at any time is hard. Children are supposed to outlive their parents.

This is the journey I've had with my family these few months. It’s been challenging because I've had a lot of issues with medications, treatments not working properly and just having to adjust to this new lifestyle.

The hard thing for me has been to accept relying on the love of others to provide for my family. I have always been the provider; I started to work when I was 8 years old and never had to call out sick, and now it has been hard for me to accept my situation. But with everything that is going on, I'm able to recognize the daily miracles I see in my life that give me hope, inspire me to keep going and let me know that everything will be ok.

Help William and the Echeverria family by donating to @givehopebox on Venmo.


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