El Paso native battles terminal cancer during COVID-19 pandemic

El Paso News

Note: A GoFundMe page was created to help the subject in this story, you can find it at the bottom of the article below.

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM)– Joel Aguilera,37, is an El Paso native living in San Antonio working as a hairstylist, but always calls the Sun City home.

“Im an El Paso native , Chuco Town is my home,” Aguilera said.

Aguilera said he started to feel sick in the spring, which worried him because that was right when the COVID-19 pandemic erupted.

“I had bloating and shortness of breath and we thought it was COVID-19 and they told me I had pneumonia,” Aguilera said.

He was not positive for the virus, however, diagnosed with stage four lung cancer on his 37th birthday.

“The hard part was not knowing what was wrong with me because the symptoms were all COVID-19 symptoms and it was the most uncomfortable time of my life,” Aguilera said.

Aguilera was once a performer during his time in El Paso, dancing for Viva El Paso for eight seasons and UTEP Dinner Theater shows.

“Its imperative that I start treatment soon,” Aguilera said.

Due to the virus, Aguilera lost the ability to work since it poses a risk on his autoimmune system, therefore he has no medical insurance.

“This particular medication is very new and very expensive it’s about $12,500 a month,” Aguilera said.

He said he was enrolled into a program called Care Link to help cover some of the costs, but it won’t cover the aggressive treatment he needs.

“I was going to be enrolled in another program that would take anywhere from 4+ weeks so, as we know, stage 4 cancer doesnt wait,” Aguilera said.

He said for the meantime he’s been looking into alternative medicine until he can get his treatments.

Some of Aguilera’s closest friends in El Paso, wanting to help, took to side jobs to help cover some of the costs.

“I work for GrubHub as well as Channel 9 so I thought why not make a few deliveries before work and donate the tips, I don’t need the money right now, he does why not just give it to him,” Preston Longhurst, the newscast director for KTSM, said.

Joel said as challenging as it is to fight cancer during a pandemic, he doesn’t let it keep his spirits down.

“I’m going to give it my all cause I want to be on stage again one day,” Aguilera said. “The money is going to help but the well wishes, prayers and good vibes is what will keep me going.”

If you’d like to help Joel Aguilera’s fight against cancer you can find the GoFundMe page HERE.

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