"She would give a total stranger any help they required," he said.
The time has come to reciprocate that help.
Thursday night, Sahuaro High School will host Coaches vs. Cancer when the 6th ranked Cougars boys basketball team welcomes 10th ranked Cienega. The event is in honor of Cathy, mother of two junior varsity players Devan and Brendan.
March of last year began a five month period in which Cathy unexpectedly shed roughly 30 lbs. By August, the weight loss prompted a trip to the doctor. The diagnosis was bleak. Cancer. But not just any kind of cancer.
The first thing you need to know about endocrine carcinoid cancer is that it's rare. Very rare. According to cancer.gov, just 2 of out every 100,000 individuals suffer from it. This type of cancer develops as slow growing tumors in the neuroendocrine system which regulates your body functions. Think the pancreas, the thyroid, or the adrenal glands. The system is made up cells capable of receiving messages from the brain that instruct them to run those functions such as your metabolism. Those cells have a living cycle. They grow, they die, they get replaced. If the cycle goes awry and the cells do not die but continue to grow, tumors develop.
Cathy was devastated, her family shocked. Worse still, doctors believed Cathy wouldn't make it to see 2015. But instead of waiting for death, Cathy showed that determination and got proactive. She visited the Envita Medical Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. It's a facility that prides itself on using both conventional and natural medicine to treat its patients. Cathy received what is called immunotherapy, where upon the immune system is naturally stimulated to fight harder against the cancer cells.
Five months later, Cathy is still fighting. But it's come at a financial cost. Immunotherapy isn't covered by her insurance and, according to her husband, in three months of therapy the Gary's spent $142,000. Which brings us to Thursday night.
Sahuaro High School will take fifty-percent of the proceeds raised from its game against Cienega and donate it to the Garys. T-shirts will be sold and a silent auction will be held during the game with a hundred percent of the proceeds also going to the Gary's.
Not too long ago, Cathy was named Social Worker of the Year in Arizona. She has helped so many through the Posada Del Sol nursing home and OSHYN Hospice.
"She can be counted on to get tasks done no matter what," said her husband of nearly twenty-years.
This time around, it's Cathy who is counting on her community.
Tip-off between the Cougars and Bobcats Thursday is 7:30pm. Her sons Devan and Brendan will suit up for the Junior Varsity game that begins at 6:00pm.
7831 N. Business Park Drive
Tucson, AZ 85743