CINCINNATI — A veteran and his wife, still in the honeymoon phase of their marriage, are facing the fight of their life together. Just a little more than a month into his marriage, Aaron Perez learned he had stage four renal cell carcinoma, a rare kidney cancer most commonly found in older men.
“I’ve had two brain tumors,” Perez said. “We’ve had spots in my lungs and liver, lymph nodes, they took out my kidney.”
The diagnosis was a shock to Perez, who said he started to have major pain in his head — not knowing the cancer had traveled to his brain.
“We were in the canyon lands hiking and then a month later, I can't stand up,” he said.
In a release from the Christ Hospital, a spokesperson said Perez went to another hospital for severe vomiting and trouble breathing. He was tested for COVID-19 and a chest X-ray was ordered, but he was sent home and declared healthy. The spokesperson said he went to Christ Hospital for a second opinion.
"After ordering a CT scan, the Christ Hospital ER doctor suspected a brain tumor and, subsequently, found a spot on the scan 'the width of a paperclip,'" the release said. "He proceeded to send his patient for more tests, which eventually confirmed the cancer that started in his kidney had progressed to his brain."
Fewer than 200,000 people are diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma each year in the U.S.. Though his doctors told him the cancer was incurable, radiation and oncology Dr. Christopher Freese said the medical team was blown away by Perez’s positive disposition during his treatments.
“I can't imagine what he is going through, and we try to do our best, but there are some people who just surprise you,” Freese said. “It's amazing how they can inspire you to think yourself about how positive and tough they can be.”
Perez said that attitude is a product of the "win the day" motto he’s adopted. The former wrestler said he’s committed to battling cancer with the help of his wife, Chasity, and his close-knit wrestling community.
"I just kind of feel like every day is the day,” said Perez. “I just try to encourage my family and my friends to whatever it is, win it ... because for me, I don’t know what tomorrow is going to be."
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