When Ricardo Antonio Chavira was 15, his mother lost a long battle with breast and ovarian cancer that he and his family had helped her wage for seven years. Last year, both of his sisters were treated for breast cancer as well, so the Desperate Housewives star was thrust into the role of caretaker once again. “Cancer is not just a tumor that affects the person that it’s growing inside,” Ricardo tells In Touch. “It affects everyone around them, specifically their family members. There is a lot of stress there because we’re constantly making sure that this person that we love is being taken care of and doing well but lose track of that for ourselves.” Now he’s the spokesperson for the Wellness Community’s C.A.R.E. (Cancer Advocate Resources and Education) campaign to make sure that everyone has the same kind of support. “It’s giving help to the helpers,” says Ricardo.
To read more about Ricardo’s efforts, click here.
After his mother was diagnosed, her good friend Lydia Ugarte reached out to Ricardo, then 8. “There are so few people left in my life who remember those times that I went through with my mom, besides my immediate family,” he recalls. “Lydia and her family were major caregivers to us. When my mom was sick, she would pick us up and take us to school. They were really there for us.”
The Wellness Community is trying to be there for every family, starting with 25 centers across the country. “There’s a workshop series called Caring and Coping available at any of the centers. And they’ve got an extensive web site with a slew of resources and a lot of informational literature,” says Ricardo, who plans to refer his sister’s 14-year-old son to the web site. “There are online support groups where people can talk with other individuals dealing with the same problem, not just in their city, but nationwide. In July, they joined forces with Gilda’s Club. Here we are at a time in our country where health care is a huge topic and this organization is trying to tackle it with a fresh perspective.”
Go to thewellnesscommunity.org for more information.