Monday, February 26, 2007
For Cedar Hill ISD volunteer Angela Trevino, life changes in an instant
Now, Angela Trevino needs help - and Cedar Hill has responded.
Angela Trevino isn't used to being the focus of everyone's attention. She's much more accustomed to being the one who reaches out to others, the one there when others need her.
“She's so used to helping others that she doesn't quite know what to do when it's herself who needs help,” says fellow Cedar Hill volunteer Sheri Borth.
Cedar Hill TODAY
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Now, Angela Trevino needs help - and Cedar Hill has responded.
The single mother of five went to the Baylor Medical Center in Dallas three weeks ago with a bad, hacking cough. She thought pneumonia, because she had recently had a bout with the walking version.
She took her friend, fellow volunteer Jimmie Ruth White, with her. They arrived at 9 a.m.
“I said, ‘I've got pneumonia. Come on Miss Jimmie, let's go to lunch,'” Trevino says.
But a doctor took one look at the results of her CT scan and said, “This is breast cancer.”
And then he walked out the door.
The news quickly got worse: The cancer had spread to both of her lungs.
Now Trevino, who has no family history of cancer and knew few people who had it, faces the fight of her life.
“I've been strong for people all my life, and when they tell you you have cancer, I felt like the witch in ‘The Wizard of Oz': ‘I'm melting, I'm melting.'”
She worked a couple of part-time jobs and has no health insurance. Cancer bills are extremely prohibitive, even for people with full coverage.
On Saturday, Feb. 28, the community will give back to Trevino for her years of service in Cedar Hill schools and for various civic organizations such as Country Day on the Hill and Keep Cedar Hill Beautiful.
A benefit will be held from 2-8 p.m. at the Cedar Hill High School Performing Arts Center to help Trevino pay for her medical bills.
But that's not all it will be about, she says.
“I don't want this to just be about me,” she says. “Over the past 5-10 years I've always done a lot of little things, and I always wondered, ‘There's got to be something else I can do.' Now I need to be an advocate for this, for people who have cancer - any kind of cancer.”
The benefit will feature live music and entertainment, food, a bake sale and booths dedicated to information about cancer and how to cope with it.
Sherry Fox of the Baylor Sammons Breast Imaging Center will be there to educate and counsel others, and, separate from the benefit, Carolyn Sparks of Cedar Hill is organizing a local cancer walk.
On March 9, a mobile mammography unit will be in the Target parking lot offering mammograms, which will cost $103 for those without health insurance, but financial help is available for those who can't afford the fee, Trevino says.
People can sign up for the March 9 mammograms at the benefit this weekend.
The benefit is being organized by several community volunteers, many of whom are members of the Cedar Hill Education Foundation.
Official sponsors are the Friends of Country Day, Keep Cedar Hill Beautiful and Friends of the Cedar Hill Education Foundation.
After the diagnosis
When the doctor left the room at Baylor, Trevino fell apart.
“Miss Jimmie looked like a deer in the headlights,” she says, laughing two weeks after the diagnosis.
In 1999, Trevino found a lump in her breast. She saw a doctor and was told it was a cyst. Nothing serious about that.
“Hey, everybody has those,” she recalls thinking.
Trevino had two mammograms done. The results came back the same - a harmless cyst.
But several years later, she noticed it started to change. She admits she should have gotten another mammogram but didn't.
“The nurses - the way they looked at my results, you could see it in their faces,” Trevino says.
She and White arrived at Baylor at 9 a.m. They didn't leave until after 6 p.m. She was taken across the street to an oncology center.
“I was a wreck, I was crying, I knew I was going to die,” she says. “Then this little old lady comes up to me and told me, ‘Look around the room at all of these people. They are all cancer survivors. I am a cancer survivor. I'm cancer-free.'”
Trevino's cancer is in Stage 4. She's been told she probably won't be cancer-free, but it is treatable.
“The doctors said you treat it as if you have a chronic illness,” she says.
A week after the diagnosis, Trevino went back for more tests, and it was determined that she had hormonally sensitive cancer that responded well to the tests.
Doctors put her on Tamoxifen, a drug that interferes with the activity of estrogen and is used widely to treat people with advanced breast cancer.
Trevino anticipated having to start chemotherapy right away, but she's been told that might not be necessary if the Tamoxifen does its job, which is to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
She still thinks chemo will be necessary at some point.
“I haven't lost weight, and I don't feel sick,” she says. “It doesn't run in my family, so that helps.”
“I'm still here”
But early after the diagnosis, Trevino was despondent. She didn't tell her five children until a couple of days later.
“I couldn't even look at them,” she says.
Oldest daughter Tara, the only one who is an adult and has moved out of the house, took the other four - Lacey, Alanna, Cassidy and Marissa - out to dinner one day.
“She explained everything,” Trevino says. “She said, ‘Mom's going through a tough time, and she's going to need our help.'”
Trevino also admits to morbid thoughts in the early days after the diagnosis.
“One day I caught myself picking out pictures for my obit,” she says. “I'd wake up in the middle of the night and look at the clock and say, ‘Yep, I'm still here.'”
When she was struggling to absorb the news about her condition, she called Permenter Middle School - where she is PTA president - trying to reach someone, anyone, on the phone.
Usually someone else answers when she calls, but this time it was Assistant Principal Russell Livingston.
“I just broke down,” she says. “I said, ‘I don't know what to do. I haven't been to church in a while, and I haven't prayed in a while,' and he told me, ‘Angela, faith is all in the heart, whether you go to church or not. We're all here, and we are all going to pray for you.'”
A new world opens up
Suddenly, Trevino was on everyone's prayer list. Kids at the Cedar Hill Ninth Grade Center plan to shave their heads for her, and students at other schools have raised modest amounts of money for her expenses.
“Kids I've known since they were really small have called me crying and asking, ‘What can we do?'” she says. “I hear a lot of people complain and say, ‘Man, those kids are nothing but drinkers and dopers,' but you know what, we've got some very good kids in our school district.”
She was also inspired by 16-year-old Jaime Glover, a sophomore at Cedar Hill High School who plays soccer. Diagnosed with neuroblastoma - a rare cancer of the nerve cells - when he was an infant, “he was basically given a death sentence,” Trevino says.
Glover has been cancer free for about 14 years now.
“Now, suddenly all these people I know are coming up to me and telling me their miracle stories,” she says.
Trevino's children are very supportive but are “more scared than they let on,” Trevino adds.
Her immediate support system, in addition to her children, also includes her 78-year-old mother - who is recovering from a stroke but is fine other than some balance issues - and a boyfriend she has been dating for about six months.
They have all taught her to fight.
“Doctors haven't said the word ‘terminal.' No one's told me I have six months to live, but I'm just scared. I am scared,” she says. “My kids are young and I've got to be here to see them through their teen years.”
Trevino is cheered by the huge show of support, something that has convinced her that she can beat breast cancer.
“When my boyfriend found out, he started crying and said, ‘It took me 25 years to find you, and I'm not going to lose you now,'” she says. “‘You aren't going anywhere without me.'”
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