GUS’ STORY: TRYING TO SAVE THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE ANA

We all know her smile, her fun and carefree personality, her humour and calm, her compassion, her love that she shares unconditionally with all of us. She is the love of my life and soulmate. She is my Ana!
You would never think it would happen to you or to someone you love.  But in June 2019, my Ana was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer.  She had already conquered another cancer over 20 years ago and now it came back in another form – colon cancer.  As devastating as it is, Ana is faced with another difficult journey and for me, a challenge immeasurable to any I have had in my life. That said, WE WILL OVERCOME the emotional, mental, and physical struggles that this disease will throw at us and WE WILL beat this disease together every step of the way! Ana has always been there for me, supporting me in every way possible, holding me, caring for me.  Anything I needed, Ana is always there. Now, it is my turn to care for her.
But we cannot, couldn’t do it alone. For a couple of months, we tried navigating the cancer and medical world seeking even the simplest answers only to be met by overwhelming and confusing challenges. Frustrated and desperate, we were at a loss on what to do next.  We scrambled to seek the best care and treatment for Ana.  Being denied by a major cancer center in Toronto, we had become hopeless until we were referred to Filomena at CCRAN by our naturopathic doctor, Eric Marsden. 
Within a week we found ourselves in contact with Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Center.  As Ana’s caregiver, a sense of relief and undeniable hope was now foremost in our minds.  CCRAN went above and beyond with just simple words and actions to facilitate the attention, care, and treatment we all needed.  The continuous support, in person meetings, education and knowledgebase helped us understand the “here-and-now” and what lay ahead of us on this journey.  The experiences of patients and caregivers, (sometimes similar, sometimes different), at the support group meetings is of utmost importance and to be a part of an organization that shares, comforts, and understands the journey is immeasurable.  This is a journey that CCRAN will undoubtedly be a part of and we are eternally grateful and thankful to CCRAN for their support.
CCRAN is a PATIENT-FOCUSED organization that has and continues to inform and support us in every step of our journey.  I can confidently say, CCRAN helped save Ana’s life. She is undergoing a clinical trial of immunotherapy and responding so very well. Her tumours continue to shrink with every cycle she receives, and her quality of life is excellent. You would never know she is receiving cancer therapy.
CCRAN will always be committed to educating and supporting all patients and their caregivers affected by this disease when called upon. The monthly colorectal cancer information/support group meetings, peer-to-peer support for patients and caregivers, research and information sharing on the latest advancements and expert presentations are among the resources available to us – for FREE. The amazing PATIENT ADVOCACY provided by CCRAN is what sets this organization apart from all others.  I have never witnessed so much passion and dedication. Both Ana and I are grateful to be under CCRAN’s wing. Please consider contacting them if you or someone you know have been afflicted with the disease.
Keep smiling, stay strong, much love!

Gus Valdez, Caregiver
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