Adriana Vidals lights up when she talks about her three children. Her two sons, 11-year-old Christian and 14-year-old Adrian, are active in the Boy Scouts. Then, there’s her “little princess” 10-year-old Carla who loves swimming.
She and her husband of 15 years, Carlos Servin, members of St. Theresa Church in Little Rock, enjoy being active with their children, wearing them out on three-hour early morning bike rides.
It’s a beautiful picture of love, family and faith — except Adriana is dying.
Vidals was diagnosed in July with acute myeloid leukemia after a few days of feeling complete body fatigue and pain while breathing.
“I’m 40 years old, but I’ve never been sick,” she said. “I don’t go to the doctor very often because I don’t get sick.”
Vidals needs a bone marrow transplant and she is far from giving up. On Oct. 3, St. Theresa and St. Edward churches in Little Rock will host bone marrow registry drives from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. under the direction of Delete Blood Cancer in hopes that Vidals will find an exact match to save her life. By becoming a donor — which requires a simple Q-Tip cheek swab — the DNA sample is logged into the global registry — a person cannot just donate to Vidals. Her best chance of finding a match is from someone who is Hispanic, who make up just 10 percent of the database currently.
“I’m a goner,” Vidals told Arkansas Catholic bluntly about what it will mean if she doesn’t find a match.
For her husband and children, the shock and pain of the diagnosis is tough.
“It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through in my life,” Carlos said. “Out of the blue, they tell you your wife has a 50/50 chance.”
Vidals story is not uncommon — someone is diagnosed with blood cancer every three minutes in the United States, according to Delete Blood Cancer. But she has the support of unwavering friend Dennis Hoover.
Hoover, 59, and his radiologist wife, Melanie, had Carlos Servin as their waiter at Little Rock restaurant Cantina Laredo about six years ago.
“(God) puts people in your life for a reason. … We invited him and his family out to dinner one night,” and the families have been close ever since, Hoover said. “We go to the lake together, we spend Christmas Eve at their house, they come to our house on Christmas Day. They’ve just turned into family.”
About three years ago, Hoover was diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent surgery, 35 rounds of radiation and three doses of chemo.
“Carlos was taking me to radiation, he was bringing me food. Adriana would call, ‘You need something? You want some food?’ No, we’re fine. Ding-dong, there’s the doorbell, she’s at the door,” said Hoover, who is Southern Baptist.
He is now in remission and did not hesitate to pay it forward. Hoover is organizing the bone marrow drives and has reached out to every media outlet he can to promote her story.
“I could sit here and watch this go or I can get on this thing and do this drive and do what we can to try to help her but also everybody else out here that falls under this heading of blood diseases,” Hoover said.
According to deletebloodcancer.org, there are still six out of 10 patients who cannot find a compatible donor. Those eligible to register as a donor must be between 18 and 55 years old and in good health.
For Vidals, Oct. 3 could not come soon enough. She is currently undergoing her second round of chemotherapy, which will last at least three weeks. She cannot leave UAMS hospital, but she is keeping up her strength by walking the halls and refusing to wear a hospital gown, but her own pajamas.
Before the first round of chemo, Vidals donated more than 12 inches of hair to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for cancer patients. It’s just another way Vidals is choosing to live out God’s plan for her.
“I never thought of saying, ‘God, why me?’ No. Actually, I think he put me in this path because I have something to do,” Vidals said. “I don’t know exactly what it is, but I think he has something for me to do that’s related to this. Maybe it’s to make the Hispanic community wake up and say, ‘Help here’ … I think we have a mission here.”
To donate to Vidals’ medical bills and her family while she is unable to work, visit gofundme.com/6p3buwpp3b or visit the Bank of Little Rock, account number 2051043.
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