Hello, my name is Richmond Del Rosario, known by my friends and family as “RJ.” I’m 32 years old. I have a beautiful wife and 2 kids: a 3-year-old boy and a nearly 7-month-old baby girl. I’ve been healthy most of my life and have never been hospitalized. I don’t drink or smoke. Then things changed early this year. I started getting headaches. I thought it was your ordinary headache so I would take Aleve or Tylenol to alleviate the pain. At the end of January though, the headaches I was feeling changed dramatically. Then it happened.
On the morning of January 30th, my headache became unbearable. I felt a cold sensation… So cold, I began shaking uncontrollably in bed. I’m not the type to seek medical treatment but this was different. I ended up getting rushed to the hospital. Once I got there, the ER Doctor decided to do a CT scan. The results weren’t good. They found what they thought was a tumor. An MRI would later confirm that. My doctor said I needed to undergo surgery right away. So, they called several hospitals to find one that could take me in at midnight.
That’s when they found Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. After a few days, doctors there determined I needed to have surgery to remove the tumor. At first, they told us it was probably a grade 2 or 3 tumor and that they could remove it. That’s why we were surprised to receive bad news the day after I got surgery. I was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme grade 4. I was in the hospital for 10 days before I could go home and recover on my own.
That first week I spent at home, I had come to terms with my diagnosis. I was determined to fight it. But then I hit another bump in my journey to recovery.
During my follow-up visit, the doctor asked me whether I had any questions. So I asked him if my condition was treatable. The doctor said “No.” That’s when it hit me. For one thing, I was shocked by how he said it. I was expecting him to break it to me gently… But a part of me was also glad for saying it straight up. So there it was. My moment of truth: that I really did have a serious battle ahead of me. I decided that now, more than ever, I needed to put God at the center and pray for a miracle.
Thankfully, I have a wonderful family support system consisting of my mom, brother, and three sisters who have been helping us take care of our kids. My brother, on the other hand, reached out to people he knew for a second opinion consultation. Through a series of events orchestrated by God, we eventually found Dr. Behnam Badie who is Chief of Neurosurgery at City of Hope. Needless to say, our first meeting with him really did give us hope. After looking at my case, he suggested doing another surgery to remove my remaining tumor. In my previous surgery, doctors left about 20% of the mass behind so as not to damage any brain function. Dr. Badie, on the other hand, believed he could remove 99.9% of the tumor without doing further harm to the rest of my body. All he wanted was a chance to do it. And so, with our blessing (and God’s), he scheduled my surgery for 3/3/16. For those unfamiliar with the number “3” and it’s connection with religion, it is considered sacred– a number of divine perfection. And so, as we suspected, God was/is on our side. We had been going around different cities visiting churches to pray for a miracle. Perhaps this was it.
So the day came to have my surgery on March 3rd, 2016 at Huntington Memorial Hospital. The facility is extremely well kept; the doctors were courteous and, above all, they were positive I was in good hands. They were right.
After 3 hours in surgery, Dr. Badie emerged from the operating room and into the waiting room to share the news. He got all of it… Or according to him “everything I could see in the brain imaging.” What was perhaps most surprising of all was Dr. Badie’s demeanor. As my family tells me, Dr. Badie was nonchalant about his tremendous accomplishment… As if he did not understand the gravity of what he had just done for my family and I. That, to us, is the true definition of an extraordinary doctor. He lives for saving lives without expecting fanfare in return.
The next day, he showed us the MRI and it, too, came out clear. I was/am tumor free. For the first time in many weeks, my family and I are relieved.
I know that this disease comes back but I am ready to fight this battle against cancer. I believe in the power of prayer, the graciousness of God, and that miracles do happen… Because, after all, I am a living example of that.
It’s been the darkest few weeks of my life. Sometimes I think: “why me?” Now I know never to question God. He has a plan for us all. In my case, this was a test of my faith. He wanted to see whether I would give in or turn to Him for help; thus, in my hour of need, I chose Him… And I will always choose Him for He is with me.
I’ll be here recovering, keeping positive, and praying that the Lord continues to walk beside me in my journey ahead.