All for love
Organized by: Rafael Zenizo
Like the song says: All You Need is Love. Unfortunately love doesn’t pay the hospital bills when you have a serious medical emergency. Rafael and Athena were married in May at a modest ceremony at her Grandmother’s house. The beginning of their life together has been fraught with medical bills as they searched for a cure for her symptoms of pain and tremors. The following is a statement from Rafael: I met Athena 3 years ago while she was working as a Barista at Starbucks. She was always upbeat, happy and smiling. It wasn’t until we started dating that I noticed that she was enduring extreme pain, in addition to being shaky and physically unstable. As time went on I witnessed just how much pain she was experiencing and the impact it was having on the quality of her life. Visits to a local doctor over the previous year left her without answers. As I was falling in love with this woman, I felt that I had been called to help her in any way I could. Although she had insurance from her job - she was barely making it financially and literally didn't have any money to pursue a second opinion from another doctor. The co-payments had drained her reserves and she was forced to live with the pain and the uncertainty of her well-being. My love for her compelled me to offer whatever assistance I could provide. I told her I would help her in any way possible to find a cure for her symptoms. My love for her was and still is unconditional. I didn’t care how far I had to go to find help for her. Love heals all. Beginning in February of 2016, we began a regimen of visiting doctors that unlike the previous doctor were willing to run various tests, including blood work, to try to find out what was wrong with her. Finally, Athena was diagnosed with a major cyst on her spinal column, which was pushing on some nerves that were causing her pain. Unfortunately, this did not explain her symptoms of tremors and fainting. One night, due to her symptoms, I rushed her to the ER because I thought she was having a TIA (mini stroke). They did a scan and found a tumor on the left side of her neck, between her carotid artery and other vital nerves. Further tests revealed that the tumor was benign but was definitely causing some neurological problems. We were referred to UCSF for more tests and treatment for both the cyst on her spinal column and the tumor on her neck. Doctors at UCSF decided to treat the tumor first with 5 sessions of radiation to shrink it and stop it from growing. Next on August 10, 2016 she had the cyst on her back aspirated which relieved much of the pain she was experiencing. These two procedures were the catalyst for Athena’s recovery. Now we are just waiting for two follow up appointments at UCSF to see how she is recuperating. I haven't stopped praying for her symptoms to dissappear and for a quick recovery so she can resume her normal life and our life together. I have no regrets for my efforts to help Athena, the love of my life. This journey has brought us together and helped to find answers to her medical issues. I am so very grateful and thankful to God that somehow we made it this far. I am concerned about our financial security, as this medical emergency has created a serious financial struggle for us as a couple. I have been employed at Monterey Bay Boat Works as a fuel attendant and maintenance technician for the last 5 years but the pay is not enough to pay rent and all minimum monthly payments to four credit card companies and two personal loans that I got to finance all co-payments from medical bills. My total debt right now is 44,685.00 dollars and the interest on this is outrageous. I am the happiest man alive and there is not a single day that goes by that I don't thank God for bringing such joy in my life and that joy is my love for Athena.