Laredo Jesus Gutierrez says he wrote his book for three reasons: he wanted to share his family's experience with cancer, to let people battling the disease today know they're not alone. It was also a way of helping him heal, and a way to raise awareness about malignant melanoma.
Jesus Gutierrez and his former wife Fanny, were a young couple in love. They married in 1978 in Mexico, and had their first child in 1983. It was with the birth of their first son that they noticed a freckle on Fanny's right cheek, grew to the size of a quarter.
"When we hear the word cancer, it was very traumatic, for both, I think it was more for me, because women are more, they're stronger than men."
Today, Jesus smiles as he thinks back on his time with Fanny, but remembers how difficult the experience was. In 1985, Fanny would get the diagnosis of malignant melanoma, something Jesus admits they knew nothing about.
"I went to the library, I started reading and reading about melanoma, I put aside my dissertation and I was very concerned and I was learning as I was reading, how dangerous it is."
Both Jesus and Fanny, working on their education and careers, even having another child, all the while researching new treatments available for malignant melanoma.
"I started searching in the magazines, in the newspapers, anything related with the disease, even though she was with a good prognosis, I decided to keep an eye on the magazines and everything like that. "
Treatment for Fanny would take them to hospitals all over the United States, and put them in touch with doctors at the forefront of researching and treating malignant melanoma. But after fighting for nine years, Fanny would die from the cancer. His sons were still young, one reason Jesus set out to write a book about his family's experience.
"My sons were very young and I said, maybe they don't understand at this age, one was 5, the other 10, but the disease we were battling for 9 years."
It took him only a few months to write the book. He then packed it into storage, where it sat for 20 years. Jesus would re-marry, his current wife Leonor encouraged him to have the book published, but only with the blessing of his sons. His book "Until The End" documents the family's journey. He says he hopes sharing his story will make a difference in someone else's life.
"It's a sad story but I think they will learn first how real life is, second that, don't give up. You hear the word cancer, don't give up, keep fighting for your life."
After the book was published, Jesus received accolades from the doctors who treated Fanny. His book "Until The End" can be found on several book sites, including Amazon/
He'll be making a presentation on September 24th at TAMIU, to share his book with the community.