Geralyn Dela Cruz personally saw the hardship that Angel Ray T. Guerrero endured in his battle against cancer and that’s why she felt that the community must know his story. The now 21-year-old, who was diagnosed with medullablastoma in 2007, was the guest speaker of the 2016 Marianas March Against Cancer last Friday.
Dela Cruz said she met Guerrero the same year the latter was diagnosed with the type of cancer that affects males 8 to 18 years within the Pacific region. That’s why the 2016 MMAC overall committee chair was emotional when Guerrero also thanked her for the support.
“I saw him at his worst and saw him undergo chemotherapy for his treatment. That’s the reason behind, as the committee chair, why I wanted him to be the guest speaker,” Dela Cruz told Saipan Tribune after Tuesday’s Rotary Club of Saipan meeting at the Hyatt Regency Saipan’s Giovanni’s restaurant.
“I saw what his family had gone through in his battle with this dreaded disease. It was hard for his parents and the entire family. That’s why it is nice for him to share his story and for the community to know the battle that he fought,” added the Corporate Social Responsibility director of Best Sunshine International, Ltd.
Guerrero underwent treatment at the Kapiolani Women’s and Children’s Clinic for 15 months where he had six surgeries—including a major operation on his brain to partially remove a tumor almost the size of a tennis ball—since the cancer was spreading rapidly to his brain.
He was also the first to donate a sample of the tumor to the University of Hawaii Cancer Center for research.
Dela Cruz, said that at every MMAC, cancer survivors usually thank the support of their families and friends. She added that the caregivers, the unsung heroes, should also be recognized for their help.
“We tend to forget the caregivers in helping cancer patients. For their patience, understanding, and also supporting the families in dealing in one of the difficult times of their lives,” said Dela Cruz.
“These people who taken care and help in the recovery of cancer patients like [Guerrero] also share the burden, grief, and hardship that patients and their relatives are going through. This is also something that we should focus on. Caregivers should also be recognized,” she added.
Dela Cruz also said that Friday night’s MMAC is a record-breaking event after raising a total of $177,000 cash and in-kind contributions. Over $144,000 is cash. “The record-breaking number just shows the entire community is committed to the cause.”
“We could not have done this without the support of the entire MMAC committee, our sponsors, donors, and the entire community. It just shows the economy is getting better, that is one of the reasons why a lot of people gave more. The corporations or the families have extra money to share for a worthy cause,” added Dela Cruz.
A total of 18 teams, five of which are rookie participants in the MMAC, joined last Friday’s activity. “This means everyone is stepping up to the place. The entire MMAC committee is happy with the outcome.”
She has nothing but praises for the entire MMAC committee. “I am very thankful to everyone in the committee. These are people who have full-time jobs but still they manage to put the time and effort in recruiting teams, solicit donations, and just put everything together in place.”
“Also, a big shoutout to the community. We were surprised a lot of people came and joined us in the annual event. Imagine the things that we can do more if we unite for one cause. That is how we grow as a person and as a community.”