8/7/2013 2:02:00 PM Car wash to help fund health care costs
Maria Zepeda on her wedding day. Submitted photo.
When medical costs come out of nowhere, they can totally wipe out any savings and devastate a family, Daniel Zepeda said. His mother Maria is currently on the list for a liver transplant and has been battling health problems for more than 10 years. Over time, this has been hard on their family, Daniel said. He wants to help his mom pay for some of her costs and make sure she gets a transplant by hosting a car wash at El Jazmin Aug. 10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. All donations are welcome, he said. At first, Maria was hesitant to the idea, she said. Her whole life, she and her husband have prided themselves on working as hard as they can to get what they have. They are proud of the things they have accomplished. They don't have much, but they've worked for what they have, she said. Maria and her husband Javier have lived in Othello for several years. Maria first moved to town when she was 8. They have four children, Daniel, Isabelle, Anabel and Noemi. Maria's health concerns started more than 10 years ago. She thought she was in fine health, she said, and then she went in for a normal physical. First, she had to have surgery on a hernia. Then, the doctor discovered she had cancer on one of her kidneys. The kidney was removed and she thought she'd have no more problems. Then, an irregular test result brought her back to the hospital. At first, the doctors thought she had hepatitis, she said. They proved that wrong, but in 2002, they discovered she had biliary cirrhosis of the liver. Doctors still don't know what caused the cirrhosis, since Maria does not and has not ever drank alcohol, she said. Over time, the cirrhosis spread. First, Maria had to wait five years after her cancer was removed to even be considered for a transplant. Then, when she finally moved on to the list, the medication they gave her caused problems with her teeth. They cracked and broke, so she saved up for two years to have them removed. She still cannot afford dentures, so she is currently going through life without teeth, living mainly on soup and protein shakes. It's caused her to lose a lot of weight and have a lack of energy. To be healthier and more ready for a transplant, the doctor told her she should be moving more and gain some weight, Daniel said. This is hard for her to do. Still, thoughout everything, her spirits have not been dampened. "I was depressed at first," Maria said. She didn't understand why such bad things were happening to her, she said. Then, she saw how her mood was affecting her children, who mean the world to her. She realized worse things happen to people every day and feeling sorry for herself doesn't help anything, she said. So, she picked herself back up and moved on, putting on a brave face for her family. She's always had such a big heart, Daniel said, and he is truly lucky to be raised by her and Javier. He got in to some trouble earlier in his life but watching his mom get sick made him turn his life around and become someone she would be proud of, he said. He wants to make life easier for his parents and to make it possible for them to enjoy life like before. The fear of the unknown is also hard. If she will get a transplant, if she will grow old, these things are never known. There are also scary side effects of her condition. Sometimes, toxins build up and make it to her brain. Then, she doesn't know who she is and her behavior is completely different than how she is normally. This situation also serves a warning to be prepared for anything, because sometimes things like this hit you when you think you are doing just fine, Maria said. She never felt the least bit sick.