By Linda Faas & Teri Nehrenz
Mesquite is a small town, and word of a neighbor’s need spreads quickly. When Deb Parsley heard of Angel Villalobos’ illness, the news struck a chord. She recently lost her son, Ryan, to an undetermined disease. It is only a few years since she lost her husband Joe. Parsley understands the importance of the support of friends in bad times and especially when those bad times get worse.
Parsley decided she couldn’t stand by watching Villalobos and his family struggle. She wanted to do something, somehow to help them. Raising money to help defray their mounting bills was something she knows how to do, and do well. Parsley is a local Realtor and president of Rotary Club of Mesquite. Using her many contacts in the community, she organized a yard sale, asking business associates and friends to donate goods, with proceeds slated to help with Villalobos’ next treatment at M.D. Anderson.
Mesquite Realtors, Lindi Corp, Wells Fargo and members of Parsley’s Bunko group joined together to stage a huge yard sale on Saturday, Sept. 29, in the Keller Williams parking lot. Friends sold baked goodies and coffee to the crowd as Villalobos and his family chatted with scores of well-wishers who came in support of this neighborhood effort.
Shoppers surveyed rooms full of wares, gathering armloads of items to buy. Each person generously dug deep to help, many remembering a loved one who has fought this same fight. A unity of spirit was obvious in the crowd.
In a heartbreaking and unexpected twist of fate, Angel Villalobos passed away just days after the community yard sale; the money the community raised will now help the family with final expenses.
Villalobos had been an employee at Lindi Corp., he earned a reputation as a reliable, competent worker and a wonderful friend. As a young married man, he was just hitting his stride as a happy 31-year-old who had a full life ahead of him. Then, in January, he noticed a lump in his left arm; maybe just a benign cyst? Soon he was experiencing some pains that felt like kidney stones. It was time for a trip to the doctor. Exams showed a dark mass in his abdomen. Further analysis revealed bad news: advanced melanoma cancer was attacking his body in the form of multiple internal tumors.
“I didn’t have any outward signs of it, like you would expect,” he had said. “No patches of dark skin like usual signs of melanoma.”
How could he have passed so quickly and suddenly; just 10 months after diagnosis?
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Growths develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells triggers mutations that lead the cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.
Tumors don’t always present themselves as the dark, asymmetrical moles or patches that Doctors have warned everybody to watch out for; they can be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white and are often overlooked.
If the disease is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable. If it is not caught early, the cancer can advance very rapidly and metastasize to other parts of the body. Once the cancer has metastasized, it is extremely difficult to treat and can be fatal.
In many cases metastatic melanoma can’t be cured but treatments and support can help a person live longer and better. Doctors have new therapies that have greatly increased survival rates and researchers are working on medications that can do even more.
Can you recognize the warning signs?
The ABCDEs of melanoma are:
A: Asymmetry; if you draw a line through the middle of a mole or spot the two sides should match.
B: Border, a benign mole has smooth, even borders. Melanoma borders tend to be uneven.
C: Color, benign moles are all one color, often a single shade of brown. Having a variety of colors is a warning sign.
D: Diameter, benign moles have a smaller diameter. If you have a spot/mole larger than a quarter inch in diameter, it may be a warning sign.
E: Evolving, common, benign moles look the same over time. Be on the alert for those that begin to evolve or grow over time.
It is a tragedy when the community loses such a wonderful member; it’s even more devastating for those family members and close friends who are left behind.
Villalobos and his family were fortunate enough to live in a community that is not only loving and caring but extremely supportive of other members whether they know them personally or not; one person’s concerns becomes the entire community’s cause.
You can read more about his story and contribute to his family at: https://www.gofundme.com/angelvillaloboscancer. More importantly; please take time to learn more about melanoma and other skin cancers. Go online to www.cancer.org and other websites to learn about symptoms and signs of melanoma.