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My name is Fred Marrero, I am a throat & tongue cancer survivor, and this is my story:

I had a very hard time swallowing & my voice became hoarse & painful. I went to the emergency room at Kaiser Permanente in California. They took a biopsy, then had a meeting of a cancer group.

A surgeon came out & told me that I had cancer. He would have to open my jaw and remove all the squamous cells, then put my jaw back together. Then radiation & chemo. He wanted to do this right away or I might die. This didn’t feel right to me & I told him I would get back to him.

On my way home to Pasadena, CA, I passed a building a block from my house with a sign in front that said “The Wellness Community”. I pulled in, went up to the front door, walked in, took 2 steps & burst out crying. The receptionist said “are you all right?”, I said “I got cancer.”

She got up from her desk, walked over to me, gave me a big hug & whispered in my ear, “you are not going to die”.

I opted for no surgery & only radiation & chemo. I joined The Wellness Community there & when I moved here in 2005, I became a super volunteer until 2015.

**Note: In 2009, The Wellness Community Affiliates joined with Gila’s Clubs International to become Cancer Support Community.