OMAHA, Nebraska. – 14 year-old Abigail Hernandez knew how to make people smile.
“She was a very happy child,” says Abby’s mother Ana Hernandez. “She loved to make jokes and had a good sense of humor. She loved to make people laugh.”
But all that began to change in July.
“Between July 1st to the 4th she started with a stomach virus,” says Abby’s father Ruben Hernandez. “The symptoms were stomach pain and diarrhea. And even my ten year old had the same symptoms. We talk to friends and family and they said that it was a virus that was out there.”
After three or four days though Abby’s parents knew something wasn’t quite right.
“The same symptoms came back but this time she had head aches and was vomiting, “says Ruben.
Little did they know what was about to unfold would change their lives and Abby’s.
Ruben remembers it vividly: “When we got to the doctor around July 6th, we took her and she was transferred from one hospital to Children’s. A procedure was done on her to find out what was causing the virus in the stomach. And it was detected that she had the H-Pylori bacteria.”
According to research by the American Cancer Society, 2 in 3 adults worldwide are infected with the H-Pylori bacteria and in developing countries the rate is even higher, especially in older age- groups.
After several days in the hospital Abby’s parents got a call from the doctor: the test results were in.
“He told us she had cancer but because he was the doctor that requested the analysis he needed to tell us the results but he wasn’t a specialist in cancer.”
The family was referred to an Oncologist that was able to tell them about Abby’s future.
“We had lots of questions and she told us that Abby had a form of stomach cancer that is very rare in children,” Hernandez says. “Normally this type of cancer is found on people 60, 70 and 80 years-old. And treating it was going to be difficult.”
Despite her rare and possibly incurable illness, Abby decided to go on a mission. She wanted to make sure everyone she cared for would know that she will always be around.
“She began to buying gifts and wrapping them even without help, even when we knew she was in pain but she wanted to do it by herself.”
And indeed she did till the day she took her last breath in October.
“She didn’t want us to worry,” Hernandez says. “Even in her last days she would pull pranks and walk around the house like a normal kid.”
Almost three month after being diagnosed with gastric adenocarcinoma she peacefully passed away at home with her loved ones.
A week-end fundraiser will keep Abby’s memory alive and help the parents pay some bills. Anyone wishing to help is asked to stop by Bere’s Hall at 36th and “W” Streets this Saturday from 11 in the morning to 11 at night for lunch and dinner. Donations can also be made directly at the Nebraska National bank where there is an account in Abby’s name.