EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — One El Pasoan has been battling multiple sclerosis for the last 6 years, but now he’s finally on his way to receive treatment.
Fernie Gonzalez told KTSM for the last two years he had noticed the downfall of his health, and that he had been struggling to get help from his health care coverage.
“Six years ago when I was diagnosed, I think fear was the biggest thing for me because I’ve seen how bad the disease can be,” Gonzalez share, “It was just shock. I was always very athletic, played football at Del Valle High School and I never thought that would be something that would happen to me.”
Earlier this year, Gonzalez was accepted to a program in Chicago for a Hematopoietic Stem Cell transplant – also known as HSCT.
HSCT essentially is a stem cell bone marrow transplant that involves chemotherapy to kill the immune system and eventually recover/reboot it. However, Gonzalez was denied the treatment by his insurance.
Fortunately he was approved to Clinica Ruiz in Puebla, Mexico. The costs were still high but Gonzalez along with his friends and family did everything they could to raise the funds to beat the disease, such as selling his late father’s truck and starting a GoFundMe.
“The cost in Mexico is $54,500 so I think that was the biggest thing is just kind of how am I going to get this money, how am I going to get these funds,” Gonzalez shared, “I don’t think I can just write a check for $52,000. I don’t have that luxury but we were able to get it done.”
Before facing the procedure, Gonzalez’ brother Saul wanted to give him something he’ll never forget: words of encouragement from one of his biggest idols in life.
“One day we were eating, and I get a phone update. It said ‘Brett Favre has replied to your request.’ So my heart instantly starts beating because I know what this means,” Saul said, “I look up across the table and he’s just eating. I tell him ‘Hey you know what, your Christmas gift just arrived early’. I pulled out my phone and showed him, and it was just something special.”
“Brett Favre is probably like my biggest idol,” Gonzalez added, “There’s a couple of them out there but he’s one of my biggest idols and I guess he just wanted to cheer me up before the treatment. It’s chemotherapy, they’re pretty much going to kill my immune system to get rid of multiple sclerosis, and he just wanted to cheer me up and give words of encouragement.”
Gonzalez said despite his disease, he won’t ever give up on having hope, “I’m going to beat this. It’s no if’s, and’s or but’s. I’m going to do it and I’m really confident that this treatment is the way to do it.”
Gonzalez shared he will be making his way to Puebla, Mexico on January 6th next year to begin treatment.