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Hope gives back

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By Carol A. Clark

Grateful for her life, a mother of three recently raised thousands of dollars and completed a half-marathon following the successful removal of a 16-pound tumor from her abdomen.“I want to help eradicate leukemia and lymphoma – I don’t want others to go through what I did,”  said Hope Jaramillo. “Participating in the P.F. Chang Rock’n’Roll Marathon was a way for me to express my gratitude. I feel so blessed that I didn’t have to go through chemo and radiation treatments, and I want to help find a cure so no one else has to either.”Jaramillo, 38; her husband of 13 years, Joe; and their three daughters, 10-year-old Taylor, 7-year-old Jordan and 6-year-old Terri traveled together to Phoenix for the Jan. 13 race.“All my family from across the country were there,” Jaramillo said. “It was amazing to see everyone and to have their support. They wore our purple team shirts and surprised me by putting “Hope’s Crew” on the back. All of them were there to cheer me on at the four-mile mark and were waiting for me at the finish line.” Jaramillo ran in honor of her brother Mark Wagner of Seattle, who has leukemia. He was waiting at the finish line for his sister. Jaramillo’s husband spoke about his wife’s achievements in an interview this morning. “Words cannot express how very proud I am of Hope,” he said. “How hard she has worked and all she’s accomplished – I just feel so proud of her.”From across the nation, 25,000 people took part in the half-marathon. “There were so many levels of physical fitness among all the participants,” Jaramillo said. “I didn’t finish first and I didn’t finish last but I finished and that’s the point.”She described the moment she completed the race. “It’s an incredible feeling crossing that finish line,” she said. “Everyone tells you it’s so emotional but you don’t realize it until you hit it.”Seven others from Los Alamos participated in the race, including Jaramillo’s training coaches Pat and Barbara Nelson. Jaramillo ran 559 miles while training from Aug. 5 through the day of the race.“They are so wonderful and so full of energy,” Jaramillo said. “Coach Pat wears bright yellow shorts with red chilis on them so everyone knows he is from New Mexico.”Jaramillo raised some $4,000 for leukemia and lymphoma research following her surgery last year.“I want to thank everyone for their donations, prayers and support,” she said. “It means so much to me and everyone touched by this illness.”The entire Members in Training team raised $3.4 million nationwide, she said, adding that throughout the year, Members in Training participate in other fundraising events such as sailing, triathlons and biking.Jaramillo and her brother David of Phoenix plan to participate in the marathon next year. Their sister Monique of Bend, Ore., promised to attend and cheer them on.Jaramilo recalled how her illness began three years ago. She developed incessant heartburn in early 2005. By December, her condition included nausea, and a swollen and expanding stomach. Her weight dropped.Throughout 2006 to the spring of 2007, Jaramillo recalled seeing five separate doctors in her search for answers and relief from her debilitating symptoms.Each doctor prescribed various medications for the heartburn and nausea, she said, and finally said they didn’t know what was wrong before sending her to another doctor.Jaramillo was finally sent to a sixth doctor for an upper GI in April 2007. That doctor decided to first do an ultra-sound. He discovered a large mass in her abdomen. She then underwent  a CAT Scan and was sent to Dr. Ronald Kubica at the Cancer Institute of New Mexico in Santa Fe.“He took one look and said I needed to get to Dallas or Houston fast. He said the mass was huge and there wasn’t anyone in New Mexico who could handle it,” Jaramillo said.She went to the Surgical Institute at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. The mass was so large doctors weren’t able to see some of her organs and didn’t know if it was attached, she said.Fortunately, the 16-pound liposarcoma was not attached and actually “popped” right out, Jaramillo said.Four days after surgery she was home. Ten days later, 30 pounds lighter and feeling great, she was back at her job as assistant advertising director for the Monitor.Jaramillo remembered being amazed at how great she felt right after surgery. “I guess I didn’t realize how bad I really felt,” she said at the time.Now, her health is monitored regularly and Jaramillo was happy to announce the results of her last check-up were clear.To learn more about the Team in Training program, access www.leukemia-lymphoma.org.