Hopeful in the face of uncertainty : A true story of resilience
By Airman 1st Class Jonathan E. Ramos, 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 22, 2021
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
A terrifying realization is not being able to achieve your dreams. An even scarier thought is possibly not getting the opportunity to start due to cancer.
Diagnosed a year after just starting his new married life, Senior Airman Eleazar Hernandez, 2nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment journeyman, was diagnosed with cancer.
“I was having shoulder pains and felt a bump,” Hernandez said. “I set up an appointment, got blood work, an ultrasound and chest x-rays done.”
Everything seemed quite standard for medical procedures until Eleazar Hernandez received a call that same afternoon with some startling news. The bump seemed to be a cancerous tumor measuring at 22 centimeters located inside his chest.
“I was put into shock,” Hernandez said. “This is the sort of stuff you see in movies and you never expect it to happen to you or someone you know.”
In the following days, he was submitted to multiple exams to give the medical professional a better look at what was happening. They found the tumor had grown 6 centimeters since it was last checked and that he had a sack of fluid measuring at 5 centimeters in diameter surrounding his heart.
“It all happened a month before our anniversary,” said Airman 1st Class Halie Hernandez, Eleazar Hernandez’s spouse, 2nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment journeyman. “I remember just thinking I’m going to be a widow and we’re not even married for more than a year.”
Eleazar Hernandez was blessed to be alive. Doctors couldn’t explain how someone could still be walking with all the fluid surrounding a core part of his circulatory system. He was sent by doctors to the nearest hospital for emergency treatment.
“I got emitted to the hospital where they did two surgeries on me to get the fluid out,” said Eleazar Hernandez. “It was almost two liters of fluid that was removed from around my heart.”
While he was emitted at the hospital, the doctors conducted a biopsy on the tumor to determine the type of cancer. They discovered it was Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system and part of the immune system.
“As bad as it sounds, I was hoping it was this one,” Eleazar Hernandez said. “It had a higher cure rate, so in a way we were very blessed.”
Shortly after the news doctors placed a port on top of his chest allowing them to access large veins without the risk of damage while delivering potent medications.
“Watching him scared, tired, weak and sick, and having to just sit back and watch it was the hardest part,” said Halie Hernandez. “There’s nothing I could do. I could be there for him, sit by him and talk to him but I can’t take that pain away.”
In the following months, Eleazar Hernandez started the arduous process of chemotherapy to treat his cancer.
“I was looking at this as a glass half-full instead of a glass half-empty,” Eleazar Hernandez said. “I just kept focusing on the things that were positive, and thought to myself that things could always be worse, and that helped me trick my brain to think it's all okay.”
After six-months of chemotherapy, Eleazar Hernandez received a positive prognosis informing him that he has entered remission.
“When I found out he went into remission I was super proud,” Halie Hernandez said. “I was thankful, excited and we both were just waiting for this to be over ever since it started.”
All the struggles endured by the Hernandez family was possible thanks to the resiliency of their characters and the Air Force family they had with them.
“Our friends here really stepped up and kept us occupied,” Eleazer Hernandez said. “No matter what I know they'll be there when we need them just like family.”
Throughout the whole experience Eleazar Hernandez thanks his religious belief for allowing him to remain positive and strong.
“Praying helped me out a lot,” Eleazar Hernandez. “I felt a connection through it and it gives you a sense of relief making you feel better.”
The attitude of the Hernandez family helped them through the hurdles of their journey. Remaining strong and faithful aided the newly wedded couple in weathering the storm of cancer and chemotherapy.
“It’s humbling just to see someone go through this,” Halie Hernandez said. “You never know what life is going to throw at you and it teaches you to focus on every moment because you really don't know how long it might last.”
Eleazar is now living life with an even stronger sense of optimism and looking forward to what life has in store for him. There’s a lesson to be learned here from Hernandez and that is to never give up. To stand up against adversity and remain strong in the face of danger is a difficult but never impossible thing to do.
“I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason,” Eleazar Hernandez said. “We had to go through this in order for us to understand life better and to grow as individuals.”