LENOIR, NC (WBTV) - "She's my hero, my everything, she's my strength," Jesseka Perez said of her mother Xiomara, a woman who is in the middle of her fourth battle with cancer.
Xiomara Orellana, of Lenoir, is a survivor.
She's from El Salvador and one of seven children. Jesseka says her mom was always looking for ways to help family back in Central America. Ultimately, she remembers her mother's selflessness, even in the face of diversity that some of us will never know.
"I hope your are able to honor my mother because she is the strongest, most beautiful, loving soul, and also my rock," Perez wrote in an email saturated with love and adoration.
Orellana was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008, just six months after her mother passed away from the same disease. Xiomara beat it.
Then in 2013, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer, that quickly progressed to Stage 3. It took a year, but she went into remission from breast cancer too.
Just a few months later, in September of 2014, Orellana was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer. After radiation treatments, she was again in remission in May 2015.
That breath of relief only lasted about a month this time. Xiomara's breast cancer was back. It was Stage 4 and this time she had Stage 3 lymphoma in her arm as well.
Chemotherapy wasn't helping, so doctors chose the radiation route. Her chest became infected and "caused her tumors to leak fluid into her lung, chest, and back," Jesseka said. Xiomara's left arm became immobile because of the lymphoma.
More tubes, and hospital stays were what the doctor ordered, but Jesseka says, "Through this time she has been so strong and positive."
Jesseka couldn't stop praising her hero for her zest for life, a "wonderful wife" and "amazing mother" who has put her daughters before herself through this journey.
A few months ago Jesseka thought it was her turn to give back to her mother. Orellana still had her father and sister in El Salvador. She says it was her mother's "dying wish" to see her father and sister again. With help from friends she was able to grant that wish and reunite the sisters who had not seen each other in 10 years. She says it gave her mother hope.
Over the weekend, however, Xiomara's radiation treatments were stopped, and she was moved to hospice care.
"She was always a very positive person and was the rock of the family and now it's our turn to care for our mother," Jesseka said.
Jesseka says it's important for her to tell her mom's story because she hopes she can find encouragement from others who have been in the same boat. She's talking to those of you who have been through the grueling days and nights of treatment, and the people who have nursed their loved ones through cancer diagnosis's.
She's rooting for her mother and, above all, hopes her story will prove to be an encouragement and support for her other.