Patient Stories

From Heart Attack to 150-pound Weight Loss

September 28, 2013


From Heart Attack to 150-pound Weight Loss

He survived Hurricane Katrina. Now Charles Gonzales is determined to survive colon cancer.

“I’ve never been sick in 41 years,” said the 63-year-old, who was diagnosed in March. “Doctors discovered it when I had blood pouring out in my stools. I lost so much blood I passed out.”

Tests showed he had colon cancer that had spread to his liver and lungs. “I was ‘what? What do you mean? How did I get it?’ I never met anyone with colon cancer.”

Complicating matters—he was uninsured. Gonzales had worked at the Salvation Army, organizing and stocking shelves until he retired in May of 2012. “I kept thinking, ‘What can I do about this?’ I ain’t got money. I need a new roof for my trailer. It’s leaking!”

A social worker at CHI Health Immanuel Medical Center eased his mind by telling him about the financial assistance program. CHI Health is part of Catholic Health Initiatives, a nonprofit health organization with a longstanding commitment to help those who helping care, regardless of ability to pay. Counselors helped Gonzales with Social Security Disability and Medicaid. He also qualified for the Gray Cancer Trust at Immanuel.

“At first I thought ‘whoa! How am I going to do this?’ But they helped me a whole lot.”

Gonzales completed five cycles of chemotherapy at Immanuel and said he’s doing well. He put all his energy this summer into his garden, which surrounds his trailer. “I stay as busy as I can in the yard,” he said. “I try not to think about the cancer.” His garden turned out to be bountiful: his sunflowers were16 feet tall, and his peppers, tomatoes, beets, peas, cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupes, squash and grapes overtook the front of his lot. “All this from a horticulture class I took back in school,” he smiled.

Gonzales still thinks about Hurricane Katrina and how his New Orleans apartment building became an island, surrounded by water on all sides. Like thousands of others, he was forced to evacuate and put on an airplane. “We didn’t know where we were going,” he remembered. “Then we found out it was Omaha. All I knew about Omaha was Mutual of Omaha and the Wild Kingdom. It’s turned out to be a good life here.”

He said the medical care has been excellent—and the financial assistance has allowed him to focus on his fight against colon cancer. “They told me, ‘Don’t worry about the bills. Do what you can to take care of yourself.’ They answer all your questions. They take away the stress. If I’d had all the stress, it would have given me more gray hair than I have now.”

One Comment
  1. Tattou

    With respect to the saefty of eating foods from a microwave; the main issue relates to the containers used to heat the food in and not the microwave radiation, which cannot be absorbed into food as all it does is to cause water molecules to vibrate and heat. Some plastics, for instance, are more prone to the effect of "migration". whereby some additives used in plastics are more likely to migrate to foods more than others. The main concern in the past has been in connection with plasticisers which are used to improve the flexibility of some packaging materials. As the tendency for plasticisers to migrate increases at higher temperatures, only those plastics specifically designed for oven use are suitable for cooking.To reduce any possible risk one should;* Use only microwave-safe utensils.* While some packaging films may be labelled 'microwave-safe' care should be taken to avoid direct contact with the food when using them to cover containers or to reheat dinners on plates.* As migration is more likely to occur into hot fatty foods, glass containers are a suitable choice for heating these products.As yet there are no standards for claims such as "microwave safe"; if you are in doubt as to the saefty of such materials contact the manufacturer or use a ceramic/glass alternative.Further, there are also many reports that indicate the loss of vitamins and certain goodness from foods that are microwaved, but the fact is that the nutritional value of food cooked in microwave is as nutritious as food prepared using conventional convection cooking methods. In fact as far as the loss of vitamins is concerned microwave cooking is preferable to boiling so as to minimise possible leaching of vitamins into the cooking water. So if anything, microwave cooking enhances mineral retention in vegetables. Further, the quality of protein, in foods cooked in a microwave is higher than those foods cooked conventionally, as far less oxidation occurs in meat cooked in a microwave. Similarly, reheating food quickly in a microwave retains more nutrients than holding food hot for long periods such as cooking and keeping food warm continually over a flame.If you would like to read some more information on the subject the following link that has been prepared in conjunction with the CSIRO, would be a good source.-

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