Being diagnosed with cancer is something no one ever asks for...yet unfortunately, all too often, it's something that rocks our worlds in some way or another.
At age 20, with his new wife standing by his side, that's exactly what happened to Eleazar Hernandez.
He recalls that day vividly....
'My PCM called me after hours on a Friday evening, after ordering a chest x-ray earlier that day for a nasty cough that I had, and asked us if we could come in. Immediately we knew this couldn't be good. We get there and are met with these words... "There is no easy way of saying this. You have a 22-centimeter mass in your chest." My heart dropped, that room was heavy, and I was in shock. I couldn't move, think, didn't know what to do, and felt so overwhelmed, and I just broke. I busted out crying. I was scared.'
'The next week, following more tests and an MRI, when I walked back into the PCM's office, my Oncologist is on the phone... "you have a ticking time bomb in your chest, and you need to go to the hospital and be admitted." The MRI showed that the mass had grown 6 cm since Friday and that I had a sack of fluid around my heart measuring 5 cm in diameter that could bust at any given moment. So to make matters worse, this doctor I haven't even met just told me I could die.'
Fast forward over the next months...appointments, confusion, tests, decisions, more tests, needles, surgery, more tests, more appointments, chemo, bloodwork, more chemo, more tests, you get the picture.
Then the day comes when it's time to finally ring that bell...the one signifying that last chemo treatment. It was overwhelming for him to say the least, especially when he walked out and is met with over 100 of his closest friends, from his military family to his caregivers and beyond.
It's impossible to capture everything about his journey in a few short paragraphs, but today, Eleazar and his wife Hallie both stand as examples of what it means to face our storms with courage that is fueled by finding strength in vulnerability. In other words, on the days where it was hard, where giving up seemed like a viable option, where perseverance seemed impossible, they learned firsthand that being comfortable enough to turn toward their loved ones in the lowest moments rather than trying to isolate and turn away from that readily available and vital support was, in fact, a very safe and much-needed part of the journey. Which he would be the first to tell you that the mental strength that comes from this, in some weird way, bleeds over into other, more physical parts of this journey.
In Eleazar's own words... "I am very grateful to everyone who helped my family and me, whether with a prayer, a meal, a motivating comment, or anything. After going through this season or chapter in my life, I have seen myself grow: in faith, in my marriage, and in the way I view life."
Speaking of growth, their family has grown as well since being declared cancer-free, with the addition of their son in mid-2022.