A Gift to Gloria Abella - Stay strong and smiling!
Organized by: Fernando Bolivar
All of you who know my aunt, Gloria Abella, know that she is strong in body, mind, spirit, and faith! And, thankfully, this strength has helped her overcome many, many challenges over the last year...
In September of last year, Gloria was standing up from a seated position when she felt a “snap” in her lower back that she described as feeling her back break in half. Despite her previous experiences with back pain, she described this new pain as something far worse and knew something was wrong and very different.
Unfortunately, she was right… MRI scans showed a fractured vertebrae in her lower back, eroded away by a mass growing in the bone. On September 30th, 2015, after several scans and tests, Gloria was officially diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and given only a few weeks to live. Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells in the blood, has very low survival rates and is treatable, but generally incurable.
After sharing the diagnosis and horrible prognosis with her family, Gloria smiled. Despite the incredible pain, she smiled with that big smile we all recognized! It’s the smile she shares with us to remind us that everything is good, every down has an up, and everything will be okay! She showed us all that she was ready to face cancer, fight it, and send it on its merry way.
Almost immediately, Gloria started undergoing round after round of radiation and chemotherapy. The treatments were effective and slowly her immune system and cancer started to disappear until they were both gone! Although she was able to get some care near home, in Odessa, TX, most of her treatments and specialists were at Baylor Hospital in Dallas, TX, and she spent several weeks away from home. After a few months, she was finally ready to receive a stem cell transplant that would hopefully restore her blood cells and immune system.
Thankfully, Gloria had a spare immune system stored away in the bone marrow of her genetically identical twin, Sylvia, and the transplant was an incredible success! Her bloodwork showed an incredible improvement and Gloria started to recover. By July of this year, there were no signs of cancer and she was officially declared cancer free, a cancer warrior, and a cancer survivor!
Unfortunately, the battle with cancer had a toll and it’s the reason we’re asking for help today. This year, Gloria also had surgery to repair the collapsed vertebrae in her spine and a full hysterectomy due to benign tumors found in her uterus. Sadly, after months of chemo and radiation, her body is exhausted and unable to heal itself properly. The surgical scars from surgery have failed to close and 2-3 weeks ago she started weeping fluid from the incision on her spine.
Now, Gloria’s best option for recovery is to undergo treatments in a hyperbaric chamber and continued care at Baylor Hospital in Dallas, TX, 300 miles away from home for the next 4 weeks. Although she has insurance to cover medical costs and ensure she continues to get treatments, the costs of traveling and staying at the hospital’s hotel have become burdensome on a family whose finances are drained after a year of costs to battle cancer. That is why we’re raising funds to help Gloria and her family cover costs related to medical care and her time in Dallas.
While her husband, Mark, continues working in Midland to provide for their family and care for their son, Luke, her sister, Martha, is with her to provide care and laughs. Since treatments are too exhausting for her to travel an hour each away (in good traffic and across DFW) to the nearest family member, they’re staying at a hotel located in the same building as the hospital. Even though it’s $100 a night, it’s the closest, cheapest, and best option for accommodations for the foreseeable future.
Accounting for costs for hotel, food, miscellaneous medical needs, and Uber rides (to and from hospital, since my mom, Martha, can’t drive due to disability), we’re estimating a cost of around $900-1000 a week and at least $6000 over the next 6-8 weeks of treatments. Although her extended family and daughter, Martha, are helping with some costs, I’m hoping our family, friends, and friends we may not know can come together and help ensure that Gloria gets the care she needs so she can focus on recovery, not costs, and come home.
On behalf of all the Marquez and Abella families, thank you very, very much for reading this, sharing her story, and/or donating if you can! Any funds raised will go directly to paying for the costs listed above and her family is planning on raising additional funds through food-sale fundraisers.