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Bound and Determined
Local cancer survivor proves her prowess.
Imelda Suarez, a cancer survivor with one kidney, kept her pace throughout the mile and a half cross country race.
“I just like to do it,”said Suarez, a 12-year-old seventh grader at Burton Middle School who would like to become a registered nurse.
A first season runner for the Dogs she had placed first in all of her previous races. This was her sixth race and she finished in second.
“Seeing her out there, beating other kids, it makes me emotional,” said Anita Suarez, Imelda’s aunt.
She was only five when doctors discovered a tumor on her left kidney. In 2005, at the age of five, she was diagnosed with a Wilms tumor.
Though she doesn’t remember much her mother remembers well.
“She started walking funny and had a pain in her left side,” said Marta Suarez, Imelda’s mother who added that she took her into the emergency room where Imelda underwent a cat scan and an x-ray. According to Marta, a black spot was found on her daughters kidney.
“We took her to Valley Children’s Hospital, and two days later they said she had a tumor on her kidney,” stated Marta Suarez who added that she and her husband Salvador were in shock as Imelda was the first in their family to have cancer.
“Oh yeah, it’s something you don’t know nothing about. It could happen to anybody,” added Marta Suarez.
After removing the kidney, Imelda underwent a second surgery.
“Her intestines were all knotted up,” stated Marta Suarez who explained that her daughter spent over a month in the hospital. Imelda later wore a mediport for three months and her hair fell out.
According to Marta, Imelda was pronounced cancer free in 2005 but goes to an oncologist once a year, and will continue until she is 25. Though she does not take medication she must always stay hydrated and cannot play contact sports.
However, her condition is not an impediment.
“She’s doing really well, winning every race and always smiling. She’s a good cheerleader for the team,” said Armando Silva the Dog’s coach.
Her fifth and sixth grade teacher, at Jim Maples Academy, Ben Cramer agreed.
“She’s great, a good student and very quiet and determined,” said Cramer who added that she never used her illness as an excuse.
Next year Imelda would like to run track and is trying to keep up with her cross country lifestyle. Today she will compete in a cross country race in Visalia and will participate in a run during the Springville Apple Festival on Saturday, October 20 and Sunday, October 21.
For those dealing with cancer or other diseases she has this small bit of advice.
“Try to keep going and believe,” said Imelda Suarez.
For cancer survivors, families and friends the 15th annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Porterville will be held from 8:30 a.m. today to 8:30 a.m. on Sunday at the Summit Charter Collegiate Academy which is located at 15550 Redwood St.