For Savannah resident, Xiomara Vazquez, the trouble began nearly two years ago when she started feeling a tingling sensation in her arms and legs. This soon led to problems with speech and motor skills. Walking became painful and difficult.
Xiomara, (pronounced See-o-mara) is originally from Bayamon, Puerto Rico. She and her husband, Brian, have three beautiful daughters. Art has always been an important part of her life and colorful landscapes and bright geometric drawings were a reflection of her sunny disposition. But now, on some days, even holding a paintbrush in her hands is a difficult task.
“It was very frustrating to go to the doctor and hear they could find nothing wrong with me, because I knew something was very wrong,” she said.
Finally, in October of 2014, Xiomara was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a disease of the nervous system that damages insulating tissues covering nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This damage disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate with each other and can be very difficult to diagnose and treat.
“My condition deteriorated to the point that I had to quit my job last April,” Xiomara said. “I am just thankful for my strong faith in God, because without him, I don't know where I'd be today.”
Expensive medical treatments including numerous MRIs, CT scans of the brain and liver, and steroid injections have led to huge credit card bills and harassing phone calls from bill collectors.
But, in spite of the pain and uncertainty of what new medical conditions she may encounter tomorrow, Xiomara has remained amazingly optimistic and upbeat.
Last month, friends raised several hundred dollars on her behalf holding auctions of Xiomara’s art, first at Guerreros Restaurant in Pooler, then two weeks later at Los Jalapeños Restaurant on Hilton Head Island.
“I don't see how she keeps going,” said Diana Arevalo Cruz, a friend who helped to organize the art auctions. “We want to comfort her and she is the one who gives us encouragement. She is just amazing.”
Another friend, Nadia Paez, agrees with that assessment. Paez hosts a popular radio show on Bluffton's Latino station, Ke Buena 1430-AM weekdays at 3:30 pm. She is also a leader of the community organization, “Grupo De Apoyo Latino Para Latinos”.
“We try to help people in our Latino community when we hear of a special need, “Nadia said. “When I heard that Xiomara's condition made it impossible for her to work, I knew this was someone we needed to assist.”
Xiomara has posted a note on her Facebook page that summed up her attitude about multiple sclerosis and the future struggle she faces: “Fear steals your joy and enthusiasm; Focus on faith and let God deal with your fear.”
If you would like to help Xiomara pay for the expensive medications she needs to fight this disease, you can send a contribution directly through PayPal. First, sign up for your own free PayPal account, then send your donation to her email: Xporrata@Yahoo.Com
On May 7th, the MS Society will sponsor MS Walk: Savannah 2016 at Daffin Park. For more information on how you can sponsor Xiomara for this event, please call Omar Mustaffa at (678) 534-3651.