For those of you who don’t subscribe to the S-A here is the story that ran Christmas Eve. Even if you don’t donate, perhaps you would want to share some prayers and thoughts on the web site. Don’t know if it’s because of this story but she has received over $5,000 since it ran.
By Cindy Luis
The glass is half full. The glass is half empty.
The positive outlook of Cia Goods-Fernandez and the realistic view of her husband, Rob, are combining for an all-in and all-out battle against cancer.
Goods-Fernandez, a standout middle for the University of Hawaii in the mid-1990s, is looking to put up the biggest block of her career. The 38-year-old has Stage IV lung cancer, a shock-to-the-soul diagnosis for the mother of five (ages 3 to 13), her husband, friends and the volleyball community.
She was healthy. She was active. She was a nonsmoker.
She was stunned.
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“If I was going to get anything, I thought it might be diabetes,” said Goods-Fernandez, a TSA supervisor at Kahului Airport on Maui. “Cancer was the last thing I’m thinking they’re going to tell me I have. I don’t feel sick.”
What began about a year ago as a weird cough with some chest pains was originally diagnosed as walking pneumonia. It was treated with antibiotics.
It didn’t go away.
More follow-ups, more tests, more antibiotics. Thinking it might be tuberculosis, she was referred to a lung specialist, who found no cancer after numerous tests, including a bronchoscopy.
It didn’t go away.
MRI was clear, biopsy was not. Nodule on the left lung.
Surgery was scheduled to remove the lung but then delayed to make sure it hadn’t spread to the right lung.
On Friday the 13th, Goods-Fernandez flew to Oahu for surgery to determine the extent of the cancer. The next Thursday she was told her only option was chemotherapy.
But with her Maui oncologist resigning this month and no permanent replacement scheduled until February, she has decided to put off treatment to focus on her family and herself as she recuperates from the last operation.
Christmas will be a little different this year. The Fernandez ohana normally comes to Oahu to enjoy the holidays with some of Cia’s family and go to the water park.
“That’s the choice we give the kids: presents or the water park,” Rob Fernandez, a T-shirt screen printer. “This year … not going to happen. Five kids in this economy, and with Cia back from surgery, it’s kind of tough right now.
“Unfortunately, we have found the business side of cancer. If you don’t have money, you’re going to end up with second-rate drugs and treatment. We didn’t want anyone to know about this, but we realized the hardships we were facing. We didn’t want to ask for help, but …”
And so a fundraising page was created at GoFundMe.com, which accepts online donations and gives updates on Goods-Fernandez’s progress.
It also accepts what the Fernandezes want the most: prayers and memories from those visiting the website.
“Even if people can’t send money, we would like them to share their stories of Cia, tell us a little about themselves,” Fernandez said. “People are donating, and we don’t know who they are. We’d like to learn about them. Most important, please send prayers.”
Goods-Fernandez said the situation may have hit her husband of five years harder than her initially.
“I go to work at 4 a.m., and he takes care of the kids in the morning, gets them ready for school,” Goods-Fernandez said. “The youngest ask him every morning where am I. He sees the big picture, one where there could be a day that he won’t know what to say to them.
“I am not thinking that far ahead. I think everyone is scared and doesn’t know what to expect, but the silver lining is with the kids on (school) break, I get to spend more time with them.”
The two oldest (Kimani, 13, and Kayla, 11) are hers from another marriage; the middle (Brielle, 9), his by a previous; and the two youngest (Serenity, 4, and Peyton, 3), theirs biologically. That’s semantics, Fernandez said, because all are their children.
Which makes it five times as tough.
“They are so attached to their mom, their faces light up when she comes home,” Fernandez said. “When the youngest crawl into bed in the morning, asking where she is, it hits me that we can’t lose mom.
“We’re going to kick this. We’re going to do this.”
The “we” was meant to be, Fernandez said. It could have happened in high school, except that he was at Baldwin and she was boarding at Kamehameha on Oahu.
It could have happened in college, when she was playing for the Rainbow Wahine. Fernandez, a three-sport athlete for the Bears, was going to play football for the Rainbow Warriors, but it didn’t happen.
“I knew of her, knew she played for UH, knew her brother,” Fernandez said. “How we look at it is we are soul mates. It took a while, but we ended up where we were supposed to be: together.
“I feel honored that she wanted to be with me. We have the greatest relationship. It’s honest. It’s open. It’s just a beautiful thing.”
Fernandez is a year younger and some three inches shorter than his wife, who is a shade over 6 feet. When they first started dating, he joked that he wanted to use her gene pool to have tall children.
“That (height difference) doesn’t bother me,” he said. “She’s strong, she’s independent, she’s beautiful. I love her.”
The couple shares many interests, from the Chicago Bears to Rainbow Wahine volleyball (his cousin Kalei Adolpho plays volleyball and basketball for UH). Goods-Fernandez, who still ranks seventh in four UH career blocking categories, also played a season of basketball.
They’ve never been much into giving each other presents.
Except for this Christmas, where the very real gift of each other is tied with the ribbon of hope.