By Darlene Gonzalez
In July 2008, I received a life-changing phone call from my best friend, my mother.
She had been diagnosed with an advanced stage of ovarian cancer. Doctors said she had no hope of recovery.
My mother was a strong, resilient woman, and she wasn't ready to give up. She decided to visit MD Anderson for a second opinion.
In early August, Pedro T. Ramirez, M.D., and a team of specialists from MD Anderson met with my mother. By the next day, they had laid out a course of action and, to our great surprise, surgery was possible.
The procedure was scheduled right away. What eventually followed were two major surgeries, 45 days in the ICU and numerous moments when we thought the fight was lost.
As an only child, seeing my mother battle for her life was one of the most difficult experiences I've ever faced.
The staff was knowledgeable, courteous and genuinely cared for my mother. My experience at MD Anderson made a lasting impression on me, as it has on so many others.
My calling to help
In the summer of 2010, my husband and I attended a concert.
During the performance, one of the lead singers of the band mentioned she had lost her mother to ovarian cancer. She shared a bit of her experience and the support they'd received from MD Anderson.
Right then and there, I found my calling. I suddenly understood that I was meant to help support organizations that work to find a cure for this terrible disease.
My mother had always told me that her struggle was for a reason, even though we may not understand it. That night, the reason became clear. The next day I began the process of forming the B.I.S.H. (Believers Inspiring Survivors for Hope) Foundation.
The B.I.S.H. Foundation is dedicated to generating and providing resources necessary for organizations who conduct research needed in finding a cure for, preventing, eliminating and the treatment of cancer. All of the proceeds from our fundraisers benefit the cancer research programs at MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Unfortunately, due to complications, my mother lost her fight in July 2012. But her spirit lives on in me and the lives she touched. I'm forever grateful for the four years we had together after she was diagnosed and to the staff of MD Anderson.
We're excited about our 2nd Annual Santa Antonio 5K Walk/Run on December 1, 2012. This event will be in her memory as she was the inspiration for starting the foundation as well as a Board Member. Every participant at this event will receive a complete Santa Suit to wear.