Ruben Rosenbaum was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Despite missing work, he refused to miss the Northwest Corpus Christi Relay for Life on Saturday to let his co-workers and friends know how much their support means to him.
"They've become a family for me through all this. It's very important for me to show up today because I haven't been showing up for work. But I needed to be here because of them, because they are my family. And it's a team," Rosenbaum said.
River Ridge Family was Ruben's team and was comprised of co-workers from Tyson River Ridge Nursing Home in Calallen. Rosenbaum is a medical records technician at the facility.
Rosenbaum was diagnosed on March 3 and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. He found a lump on his neck several months ago and was told at the time that it was just a bacterial infection.
Doctors tested the lump and said it was benign, but Rosenbaum said he was not happy with that diagnosis. He said he knew deep down that it was something serious.
Later, the lump became bigger, and a biopsy revealed that it was Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He said it is very hard going through chemotherapy and trying to raise his two-year-old son, Noah.
"I miss being able to play with him like I used to. He enjoys playing outside and I can't be out in the sun. I'm usually too tired to play or to lay down on the floor with him," Rosenbaum said. "He's a boy and wants to do all sorts of boy things, like play football, baseball and play soccer. He loves soccer and that is the most frustrating for me. Almost daily I curse this because I am not physically able to do that for him."
Rosenbaum said what keeps him going every day is his son and the fact that he has to get better for him.
"I push people to get tested. I tell them to push and don't stop. Get it tested and find out. Because of me being misdiagnosed, you can't always trust what the doctor says. You need to get a second or third opinion," he said. "I want to be there for my son so that someday I can see him graduate and have children.
Over two dozen teams participated in the NWCC Relay for Life. Teams raised more than $130,000 to go towards cancer research. The emcee for the event was Corpus Christi City Councilman Kevin Kieschnick, who stood in for County Commissioner Mike Pusley.
Also announced during the opening ceremony for the event, was the recipient of the Star of Hope award who was Tuloso-Midway High School student Samantha Pate, a cancer survivor.
The event was made possible by community members gathering together to make a difference, organizers said. Debbie Shannon, a member of Jack's Crew, of the Jacksonwoods Presbyterian Church, said the church gets behind the event every year.
The organization raised $14,000 for the cause.
"We fundraise year-round to get to that level - a whole year's worth of effort, with Christmas bazaars to selling T-shirts and various other things," Shannon said.
"We have lost so many church members to cancer, and we have members now who are battling cancer. Our youngest is 15 years old," she added. "It is near and dear to our hearts, and we just want to make some kind of difference to help those who are battling that disease to let them know they are not alone and that there are people who love and care for them. That's why we do it."
Melinda Torres traveled from Banquete to walk in the Relay for Life with the Banquete Independent School District team, the Chaotic Crew.
"I'm here for my grandmother, Andrea Fernandez. She passed away three years ago from cancer," Torres, an eighth grade student at Banquete High School, said.
She walked the first hour with her friend, Philip Zuniga, who was there that night to support her.
Torres said she, her mother and her remaining grandmother are more health conscious since her grandmother's death and make sure to check themselves for cancer on a regular basis.
"I feel really proud, because I know she would want me to be out here doing this," Torres said.
Adela Saucedo, a three-time cancer survivor, walked the survivor lap hand in hand with her close friends, who she has relied on over the last 17 years, through good times and bad. Diagnosed with breast cancer in October 1994, Saucedo also faced two cases of lymphoma, as well, over the years.
Through the radiation treatments and chemotherapy, Saucedo said she always relied on her faith to see her through.
She has maintained a positive outlook on life, she said, because there is no other way to live.
"It took a lot of prayers," Saucedo said. "You have to stay positive. I'm here to show others they can do it. I'm here to support the others."