When you try to reach Erlinda Gonzales on the phone, you typically get her voice mail providing a message that says a lot about her. She tells callers that she is out and about attending her grandchildren’s many activities. Although Erlinda, 54, is living with an extremely rare form of cancer, Esthesioneuroblastoma (ENB), which involves the nasal cavity and the brain, she is constantly on the go as the guardian of her three grandchildren, Justice, Jame and Jace—all under 12 years old. Her jam-packed schedule includes soccer matches, softball games and other sports activities that would tire anyone out, let alone someone who is facing the impact of a cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Cancer isn’t the only disease to strike this family—at times throughout her diagnosis and treatment, she has had to care for her daughter, who was her primary caregiver, and her grandson.
After her diagnosis in December, 2011 Erlinda’s treatment included brain surgery. Some of the residual effects from her cancer include light sensitivity, loss of taste and smell, and some difficulty swallowing.
Yet, through it all, Erlinda has maintained an incredibly upbeat attitude. “In my family it has always been extremely important to remain positive in life,” she says. Erlinda feels that Angel Foundation has offered much-needed financial and psychosocial support.
During her treatment, Erlinda benefited from financial assistance for transportation costs and other non-medical expenses. She and her family also participate in FaCT programs.
“I’m not a person to ask for help, but Angel Foundation has been a blessing,” says Erlinda. “They understand and can talk to me about the issues around my diagnosis,” she says.
And then there are the hugs. “I am so grateful to have the hugs from those at Angel Foundation and other participants in the Facing Cancer Together groups,” she says.
Overall Erlinda feels very blessed. “In my journey, I’m thankful for each day that I’m awake and enjoying my grandkids,” she says. “I pray that I can stay until my grandchildren grow up.”