Painting our World Purple – Hero of Hope Cathy Castro

Cathy Rivera Castro
Cathy Rivera Castro
No one should have to fight cancer alone, especially your children.
“I was in the prime of my life, entering the last semester of my senior year in college when I was diagnosed. The cancer had completely paralyzed me from the waist down. I was devastated,” stated Andre Jon “Dre” Rivera Castro,” Cathy’s son.

When Cathy’s son was diagnosed with cancer in his spine, she vowed that she would do everything possible to help him. Treatment and care was not available on Guam so they had to travel to California. She told him to concentrate on fighting the disease and she would fight everything else for him – finding resources, doctors, financial support, access to treatments, cancer information that would improve his quality of life.
A year and a half after surgery, they again returned to California for additional treatment. More complications arose and they remained there leaving their home for over a year. She sought out the American Cancer Society through their toll free number and explained their situation. They were living with family members but treatment was over 100 miles away. They would make the trek 2-3 times a week. The Society offered them transportation assistance and information on cancer, pain management, and available financial assistance. When the year was coming to an end, doctors felt Dre could return home and continue his Chemotherapy treatment there. The Society assisted Cathy and Dre while they transitioned back home by providing information, navigation and networking for this.
“My entire family means the world to me, so you can say that my maternal instinct has been my source of strength. I will stop at nothing to ensure that he gets the care and attention he needs,” stated Cathy.
Today, Cathy’s son is walking again thanks to the doctors, medical advancements, family support, faith in God, and the American Cancer Society. Dre continues treatment but the Society also continues to be there for him. She serves as a team captain for the Relay For Life of Guam, as well as the event lead for the Bring the People and co-lead for Survivor Team to help raise funds for the Society’s mission. In addition, she advocates for new legislative policy that will not only help improve her son’s quality of life, but will help open doors for others that may not have an advocate for themselves. She knows first-hand the struggles of those battling cancer and on their families and has vowed to get the message out to her island community that assistance through the American Cancer Society is available for all.

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