Tag Archive | "Cancer"

Cancer diagnosis threatens future of Bronx bird sanctuary

Troy Lancaster, 69, inspects some weeds that have taken over a gravel path that runs through Dred Scott Bird Sanctuary in Mount Eden.

As Troy Lancaster opened a gate to the Dred Scott Bird Sanctuary in Mount Eden, he bent down to pick at some weeds that had begun taking over the gravel path that cuts through this oasis in the south Bronx. Though it feels like a lifetime ago, he said, the city-owned lot used to be a dumping ground for junk and snow from the rest of the city—and he’s worried it’s headed there again.

Lancaster, the man who built Dred Scott from the ground up 22 years ago and has spent much of his time since then acting as director and caretaker for the park, was diagnosed with leukemia last year and began treatment in early September. With nobody to immediately take over those duties, the park is just beginning to fall into disrepair and ultimately faces an uncertain future.

“I don’t see anyone doing what I did for this many years,” Lancaster, 69, said. “And I’m too sick to fight it.”

Though it’s designated as part of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the vast majority of the money for general upkeep is raised painstakingly by Lancaster and his wife, Patricia Grant. They also perform much of the landscaping and other manual labor themselves, originally learning the basics by taking classes at the Bronx Botanical Gardens.

Without the promise of financial security for whoever comes next, it’s been difficult to find someone with the expertise—and willingness—to take over. The Parks Department said it plans to hold information sessions this fall in an attempt to recruit a new caretaker, but Lancaster is anything but optimistic.

He’s quick to point out that years of unpaid labor inspired the park’s name: Dred Scott was a slave who tried, unsuccessfully, to sue his owner for freedom in what would become a landmark Supreme Court case. It began as a joke Lancaster’s daughter told, but the name eventually stuck.

“This is a modern-day slave story,” Lancaster said. “I started the bird sanctuary in the first place because I felt my government failed me … We were just trying to make a decent space for kids that live in the community.”

Looking at Grant Avenue now, it’s hard to imagine the way it was back when Lancaster first moved to the neighborhood in the 1980s. There were still apartment fires burning every few days or so, he said, and only one or two buildings we would now consider livable. Most of the block Lancaster lives on was an open-air drug market.

Starting in the 1990s, it took more than two years to clear the lot of debris and create what would soon become a community garden. After learning songbird migration routes lay directly over The Bronx, Lancaster set out planting native plant species that would attract the birds. His wife then designed a curriculum for after-school nature programs that would serve neighborhood children, but it was hard to elicit the same sort of buy-in from the community at large.

“People were never going to go for a bird sanctuary in the Bronx,” Grant said. “They would say, ’What kind of crackpots are up there on Grant Avenue talking about a bird sanctuary?’ … They just didn’t get it.”

Once the vacant lot—and the neighborhood at large—was cleaned up, everyone assumed developers and their bulldozers wouldn’t be far behind. That was the story behind numerous other community gardens and similar plots across the city, a phenomenon outlined in a 2002 paper published by the social science journal GeoJournal.

Except that didn’t happen. The Lancasters won a $500,000 grant from Mayor Bloomberg’s administration, then an EPA Environmental Champion Award, and the park that nobody seemed to want suddenly became a cornerstone of the community.

“In the end we made a lot of people happy with that space,” Lancaster said. “A lot of people got to do family reunions who had never had one before, people had weddings done there—people who couldn’t afford to have a wedding at the botanical gardens.”

Last August while Lancaster was working in the park, he began to feel dizzy and passed out. Grant found her husband a short time later and rushed him to the hospital, but bad news was already on the way.

After the cancer diagnosis, Lancaster began reflecting on his life’s work. He still plans to put in as much time as possible during treatment to ensure the park’s continued success, but is slowly coming to terms with the future—with or without the sound of songbirds brightening up his little corner of New York City.

It was the people, after all, who made Dred Scott Bird Sanctuary a success—and not the other way around.

“We didn’t create that community,” Lancaster said. “The space and the people did. Even when we didn’t have the tools to properly take care of this place, the neighborhood used it for what they felt they could use it for.”

“We just opened the gate, and they came in.”

Posted in Bronx Life, Community Resources, Featured, Southern BronxComments (0)

Pelham Bay landfill lawsuit set for court, The Bronx Times

A lawsuit against the Pelham Bay Landfill by families who claim their children developed cancer because of it, got the okay to fight their case in a court, reports The Bronx Times.

The landfill was shut down in 1979, however many continue to claim that contaminated air, soil and groundwater caused leukemia or Hodgkin’s disease in their children.

The First Department Appellate Division ruled that there is enough evidence for a jury to determine if toxic chemicals have caused cancer in children. No court date has been set yet.

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Research at Montefiore seeks to advance treatment of pancreatic cancer

Research at Montefiore seeks to advance treatment of pancreatic cancer

By: Mehroz Baig

Ron, a 79-year-old Bronx man, remembers the day a CAT scan revealed something was seriously wrong with his health.

“While the tech was doing the scan, she had this look on her face,” he said. “She said, ‘excuse me,’ and went and got the doctor.” The scan  eventually showed he had developed pancreatic cancer.

Ron asked for his last name to be withheld because he hasn’t told much of his family or his friends that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August 2010 and he doesn’t want them to worry.

Ron is a small figure who walks fast wearing a white, short-brimmed hat covering a head of light gray hair and a black sports jacket. His health has put many restraints on his life: as he puts it, his plumbing isn’t what it used to be. But he maintains a sense of humor. He talks about the nurses who take care of him and says that he likes to joke with them.

“They feel bad for everyone that has to be treated,” he says. “When I kid around, you get a rapport with them, you become friends.”

Pancreatic cancer can occur in two forms: one attacks the part of the pancreas that creates enzymes which make regulatory hormones, like insulin to control glucose levels in blood, explains Dr. Steven Libutti, director of the Montefiore-Einstein Center for Cancer Care. This cancer is called pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer.  This is is the kind of cancer that Ron has. The second form of pancreatic cancer is called pancreatic adenocarcinoma, which attacks the part of the pancreas responsible for helping the body digest foods. Adenocarcinoma occurs more frequently and is more deadly.

“Life expectancy for pancreatic adenocarcinomas is often measured in months whereas life expectancy for pancreatic neuroendocrine carcinoma can be measured in years,” Libutti said.

Libutti , who is also associate director for clinical services at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center, says that although pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer is less prevalent, it is increasing.

“Part of it may be we have better means of diagnosing or detecting them and part of it may be that they actually are increasing in incidence,” Libutti said.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2010, there were approximately 43,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer in the United States. That same year, there were 36,800 deaths by pancreatic cancer in the U.S. The data was not split between the two types of pancreatic cancers. According to the New York State Department of Health, there were 2,768 cases of pancreatic cancer diagnosed in 2007. That same year in New York, there were 2,280 deaths from pancreatic cancer.

Libutti is heading the most recent venture in cancer treatment and detection at Montefiore and Albert Einstein Cancer Center. Through a partnership with four other institutions in Texas, Libutti and his team applied for a grant from the National Cancer Institute to research the use of nanotechnology to diagnose and treat pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer and ovarian cancer. In September, the team was granted a $16 million, five-year grant to pursue this technology.

Nanoparticles are tiny particles, smaller than the diameter of a human hair. “The idea is that nanomedicines can be engineered to have unique properties that might allow them to help in the development of therapeutics that can be targeted to tumors as opposed to having a general effect on the entire body,” Libutti said.

Imagine a cancer tumor having a zip code, Libutti says. His goal with this research is to design an agent that can read that zip code. Once the agent is injected into the body, it would go directly to the zip code where the tumor lives. Once that is accomplished, the agent can be sent with medicine to kill the tumor or some other substance that would allow doctors to see the tumor more clearly.

Currently, there are various treatment options for people who are diagnosed with pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer: surgery is usually the first option. If a person is not able to have surgery, either due to medical conditions or because the patient chooses not to, other options include octreotide injections or sunitinib pills, both medicines that slow the growth of neuroendocrine tumors. “Traditional chemotherapy doesn’t work for endocrine cancers,” Libutti said.

Libutti points out that the concept for this research is not new. Doctors use iodine, for example, to diagnose and treat thyroid cancer. There isn’t a naturally occurring substance that responds to pancreatic cancer tumors the way iodine does to thyroid cancer. Libutti’s research aims to fill that void by creating something that will serve the same purpose that iodine does for thyroid cancer.

Dr. Steven Libutti in Lab

Steven K. Libutti, director of Montefiore-Einstein Center for Cancer Care, is investigating nanoparticles for imaging and treating pancreatic tumors as part of a national five-institution research project funded by the NCI. Pictured in the lab with Dr. Libutti is Mijung Kwon, a senior scientist at Einstein. (Photo Credit: Albert Einstein College of Medicine)

Libutti says that if the research is successful, his team could have a working form of nanomedicine ready to use in seven to ten years. Although the Einstein-Montefiore investigators are focusing on the pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer, the research could produce a substance that would also be useful for pancreatic adenocarcinoma as well as ovarian cancer.  These cancers are not linked but they were chosen because of the expertise and interests of the investigating teams.

“My question would be, is this something that they’d be able to detect early?” asked Kristen Angell, affiliate coordinator at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s chapter in Connecticut. Angell’s father was diagnosed with the deadly pancreatic adenocarcinoma in April of last year and was given a year to live. Angell was her father’s caretaker during the last year of his life and says that early detection of adenocarcinoma is crucial to fighting this disease.

Angell points to the progress that’s been made in breast cancer and says she hopes the same efforts can be directed towards pancreatic cancer.

In the meantime, Ron continues his treatment with Dr. Libutti. Although he hadn’t felt too much pain in the beginning, he says he recently started getting an ache on the right side of his body, which he hopes to address with the nurse the next time he is at the hospital. Ron’s pancreatic tumors have spread to his liver, and while the treatment is meant to slow their growth, it is too early to tell what, if any progress has been made.

Since October 2010, Ron has been going to Montefiore for blood work every two weeks, a shot every month, and periodic CAT scans. Having survived a heart attack, prostate cancer seventeen years ago, and now living with a pacemaker, Ron simply did not think that he could survive a major cancer surgery and opted for the second treatment option of monthly injections that slow the growth of the cancerous tumors.

“I’m like an old car,” he jokes.

Ron has found ways to cope with his health: he maintains a strict diet, donates to children’s organizations and prays.

“I got to church a lot,” Ron says, “more so in the last couple of years when my health started deteriorating. I’ve lived my life. I want to live more but it’s in God’s hands.”

(Click on the interactive below to see pancreatic cancer cases and deaths for all five New York boroughs from 1976 to 2007.)

Posted in Former Featured, Front Page, HealthComments (0)

Characters of softball, the real Bronx pastime

The Yankees may get the attention, but softball fields like this one in Pelham Bay Park are where the real Bronx legends are made.  (Ryan Tracy/The Bronx Ink)

The Yankees may get the attention, but softball fields like this one in Pelham Bay Park are where the real Bronx legends are made. (Ryan Tracy/The Bronx Ink)

As many older observers tell it, softball in the Bronx was most popular in the mid-1980s, when games could attract crowds of hundreds of people and wagers on various teams ranged up to $10,000 on a single contest.

One softball team had a particular penchant for taking that cash in those years: an aptly-named crew known as The Bandits. As their veteran players tell it, their team was so unstoppable that it had to travel to Brooklyn, Connecticut, or New Jersey to find a game. They once changed their team name to be admitted to a league that wouldn’t have accepted them otherwise, for fear they would trounce the competition.

Today most of the original Bandits are in their 50s. One is 65. But the guys can’t stay away from the diamond. The team reunited last year and is now in the midst of its second season this century, playing games every Saturday in the Bronx Stars league at Pelham Bay Park. The Bandits today are a combination of veterans from the squads of the 1980s and a handful of 20-something sluggers. While the younger guys man the outfield to do most of the legwork, the older players yell the loudest and seem to collectively hang on every pitch. For them, donning the grey-and-black jerseys on Saturdays is about a break from wives and girlfriends in favor of time with sons and old friends. It’s about taking pleasure in those non-stop insults and chuckling over a beer after the game ends on a sunny afternoon. And if they finish ahead of the 23 other teams in the league, so be it. They were division winners last year and lost in the playoffs to the eventual champions.

Yankee Stadium may get the most attention, but for many Bronxites the real baseball happens on fields like the ones where The Bandits play. Here are the characters that bring those fields alive.

The Survivor

Cheo Romero woke up with a hole in his throat, unable to breathe or talk, with surgical wounds on his neck and leg, scared, depressed, suicidal, a feeding tube poking out of his abdomen and an IV needle in his arm. That was February 2009, days after doctors had discovered a bulging tumor in Romero’s jaw. That was the beginning of the battle.

Cancer Survivor Cheo Romero has returned to the softball field, hoping to add another framed championship jersey to his collection.

Cancer Survivor Cheo Romero has returned to the softball field, hoping to add another framed championship jersey to his collection. (Ryan Tracy/The Bronx Ink)

Next came several months of an experimental treatment that combined radiation and chemotherapy. The former bodyguard and Bandits centerfielder spent drugged-up day after drugged-up day in the hospital, unable to go home because he couldn’t bear the pain.

Romero’s people were fixtures in the hospital room during those hard months: his ex-fiance and mother-in-law – both still close to him when the cancer was diagnosed – his son Rolando, and his softball teammates. Manager Edgar Aviles came to see him several times a week.

“Sometimes I’d go to sleep and I’d wake up and he’d be in the chair,” Romero remembered. “He used to tell guys, ‘I don’t think Cheo’s going to make it.'”

Making it wasn’t a sure thing. Doctors had warned Romero that the even if the emergency surgery needed to remove the tumor was effective, it could leave him eating out of a straw or through a feeding tube for the rest of his life. Few imagined he would play softball again.

But Romero had other ideas. He would surprise his nurses by disconnecting his own IV and feeding tube to walk around the hospital for exercise. He did pull-ups on the chain above his bed, startling other patients.

Romero, who is 51, hasn’t returned to work, but he lives for Saturdays. Now he not only chews some of his meals, but wraps up that feeding tube so it doesn’t impede his ability to pitch. He stays away from playing the outfield or running the bases, but he can still swing the bat. Best of all Romero’s cancer is in remission.

“I used to look out my window and cry,” Romero said. “Now I’m playing every game.”

The Manager

The Bandits are a rowdy team, but there's no question manager Edgar Aviles is the man in charge.  (Ryan Tracy/The Bronx Ink)

The Bandits's dugout is a rowdy place, but there's no question manager Edgar Aviles is the man in charge. (Ryan Tracy/The Bronx Ink)

When Edgar Aviles broke his ankle sliding into third base, his teammates thought of one thing: revenge.

The Bandits’ dugout was a dangerous place to be in the 1980s. The team, energized for softball games that, at that time, they played throughout the week, thrived on more than just verbal jibes. The guys were fans of the World Wrestling Federation and wouldn’t be shy to throw an elbow and catch a teammate off-guard.

As Bandits member Frankie Rodriguez remembers it, Edgar Aviles was among the most formidable wrestling opponents. But this time, as Aviles lay prone waiting for an ambulance, he couldn’t fight back. And with the rest of his body intact, it was open season for the rest of the Bandits.

“While he was laying on the floor, everybody was doing elbow drops on him, eye gouges, whatever it took just to get back at him,” Rodriguez recalled. As the ambulance pulled away, the team flagged it down. The paramedics stopped, “thinking they were going to give him something. The guy opens the door, and (a Bandits player) came and eye gouged him again. He left (for) the hospital in pain, but he was laughing, he was laughing the whole way.

“I mean it’s amazing, how you going to be there with a broken ankle and be able to laugh at things like that? That will tell you the kind of guy he is,” Rodriguez said.

It’s Aviles who keeps order amidst the trash-talking personalities in the dugout. After decades of strict managing (he once walked off with the player’s cash after it took a threat of forfeiting the game to get them to pay an umpire’s fee), he has earned their loyalty. The men on the team may call the shots at their day jobs, but everyone knows who sets the lineup on Saturday.

Edgar Aviles, manager of The Bandits, memorialized the team on his left arm.   (Ryan Tracy/The Bronx Ink)

Edgar Aviles memorialized The Bandits on his left arm. (Ryan Tracy/The Bronx Ink)

“Today I showed up late,” said Gilbert Rivera, 55, on a recent morning in Pelham Bay Park. “He’s not going to start me.”

Aviles, whose son Mike is an infielder for the Kansas City Royals, says he’s more relaxed than in the Bandits’ earlier days. At 50, he’s stopped working as a customer service representative at a bank due to a heart condition. He looks forward to the games at the park to keep him occupied.

Today, “we come out to enjoy ourselves, goof around, talk about the old times,” Aviles said. “It’s not big deal if we win or not.”

Yet when Aviles talks about how the Bandits finished second-place in their division last year against a field of younger teams, it’s hard to miss a sense of satisfaction.

The Mummy

During the week, Milton Pacheco is, in his own words, “The Broker” of real estate in the Bronx. On Saturdays, he’s something else.

“They call me ‘The Mummy’ because it takes me about 45 minutes to get wrapped up. I gotta wrap up my ankles, wrap up my knees, wrap up my back,” Pacheco said while preparing to pitch on a recent Sunday. “Bunch of assholes, anyways,” he added with a smile.

Milton Pacheco, 65, is the oldest Bandits player.  (Ryan Tracy/The Bronx Ink)

Milton Pacheco, 65, is the oldest Bandits player. Teammates call him 'The Mummy.' (Ryan Tracy/The Bronx Ink)

Pacheco, who is 65, is regarded as the senior member of the Bandits squad. He remembers how the team used to have to travel outside the Bronx to find opponents. Once, the Bandits changed their team name so that they could be admitted to a league that wouldn’t have accepted them for fear that they would trounce the competition.

“We had a reputation, nobody wanted to play us,” he said. “Now we’re old and everybody wants to play us, but we’re still pretty good.”

The team’s competitive fire hasn’t subsided with age. Pacheco was tossed from a game in April after arguing balls and strikes from the pitcher’s mound. His replacement, Joe Capello, got berated for giving up too many walks. Said teammate Gilbert Rivera after the game: “he led their team in RBIs.”

Indeed, after the game is when the real fun starts. The guys sit on benches in the shade, sipping beer and hurling insults. They dissect the most recent game, pointing out that as older guys, they can’t make unforced mistakes. They discuss a team trip to Florida. Everyone is home. What’s better than sitting in the park talking baseball?

“Sometimes we don’t see each other for six, seven months. You’ll meet up again in April, hang out, have a little brew after the game, you know what I mean?” Pacheco said. “We spend the whole day here. You look forward to it.”

Said Rodriguez: “I do anything I can to be part of the team. I keep score, I coach the bases, just to be here. And there’s a lot of guys like that … It’s in your blood.

“They’re gonna bury me in the mound when I die,” he added, laughing. “That’s the way it is.”

Posted in Bronx Blog, Bronx Life, Bronx Neighborhoods, Bronx Tales, East Bronx, North Central Bronx, SportsComments (1)

The Riveras are One in a Million

By Mustafa Mehdi Vural and Jose Leyva


The Riveras share their 18th floor apartment with three chihuahuas, birds and a small aquarium. Photo By Mustafa Mehdi Vural

The elevators break down at least twice a month in the Murphy Houses, a 20-story, low-income complex at 1805 Crotona Ave. in the Bronx.

Disrupted service is an inconvenience for all its 714 residents. But a broken elevator poses an extra burden for Francisco Rivera, 31, from Puerto Rico, who lives on the 18th floor with his wife and two children.

Francisco Rivera’s right leg was amputated 13 years ago when doctors found a cancerous tumor on his knee in Puerto Rico. At that time, Rivera was an 18-year-old boxer in high school, and also a husband and father of one daughter.

Doctors at Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx found and removed another tumor in his brain last May, bringing his total number of tumors to 18. After numerous operations, he has lost half of his right lung and part of his groin.

“There are no hospitals in Puerto Rico like in the U.S., there is no such technology,” said Rivera’s 29-year-old wife, Elizabeth, in Spanish. She was 13 when she met Francisco and 15 when she first gave birth to their daughter, Franshely.

“Doctors told me that I had a year to live,” said Rivera recounting their ordeal in Puerto Rico. His cane leaned against the couch. And the walls in the living room were covered with the Puerto Rican flag.

The Rivera family immigrated to the United States in 2000 in search of better medical treatment.

Photo By Mustafa Mehdi Vural

"I am a fighter, I have always been fighting for my life and for my family's well being," said Francisco Rivera. Photo By Mustafa Mehdi Vural

“The doctors say I am a miracle,” said Rivera. “I tell my husband you’re a living miracle, because I’ve seen cases like yours and they just don’t make it,” said Elizabeth.

Francisco survived brain surgery in May, but it has left his vision impaired in his left eye, and visible scars in his skull, which was reconstructed with metal implants.

“I have small memory problems. Right now I’m taking pills to prevent epilepsy,” said Rivera.

On a Monday afternoon in late October, the elevator was out of service again in the Murphy Houses. So the Rivera family had to make it down the stairs to go to Old Navy department store in Co-op City, in the Bronx.

They were not going shopping. They were going to collect a $1,000 gift, along with new clothes as part of Old Navy’s nation-wide project called “One in a Million.”

“It is inspiring to know that such a huge fashion store is interested in helping people like us,” said Rivera. “I think they are recognizing my own efforts to overcome the cancer.”

This project is meant for each store manager to invest $1,000 in his or her community. The company reserved $1 million in total for this nationwide project that hopes to reach out to 1,000 families in need.

“Anything that they can get is a help during this tough economy,” said Jenira Lopez, the store manager of Old Navy in Coop City.

Early in October, Lopez reached out to Ivine Galarza, the District Manager of the Community Board 6, to identify a needy family in East Tremont.

She had many residents to choose from.

More than 40,000 people receive public assistance in East Tremont, which comes to over 50 percent of the population. In the Bronx, overall, 41 percent of the population is on welfare, 10 points more than the citywide average, according to 2008 district profile data.

“Anyone of these families would have been candidate for this award that Francisco Rivera got,” said Galarza.

“I immediately thought of him,” said Galarza. “I know of him and of his family and of his conditions for years. The situation that they are going through is terrible.”

Galarza noted that the city does not do enough to take care of the poor in her district.

“This is unrealistic–$4 a day for a person to have lunch,” said Galarza, pointing to the figure in the official city document called “Guide to Cash Assistance Budgeting.” “At least in this holiday season, we are making one family happy out of 175,000 families that live in the confines of the Community Board 6.”

The Rivera family’s yearly income is approximately $20,400 a year, $1,000 below the poverty line for a family of four. The average household income in the Bronx is $34,031 compared to $53,448 citywide.

Photo By Mustafa Mehdi Vural

The Riveras have been married for 16 years and have spent 13 of those in hospitals. Photo By Mustafa Mehdi Vural

Francisco’s wife is the family’s main income provider. She works 30 hours a week as home health care attendant for Gotham Per Diem. “I take care of patients with cancer,” said Elizabeth. She earns $9 per hour, providing 60 percent of the family’s income – almost $1,000 a month. The rest comes from the Supplemental Security Income, a federal welfare program for disabled people.

“I just can’t work. It wasn’t a decision I made,” said Rivera. He spends half of his time at home and the other half in the hospital. “I cook, clean the house and take care of our kids.”

It is not easy for Francisco Rivera to execute his daily routine tasks without taking a morphine derivative to fight pain.

Nor is it easy to make ends meet.

The Riveras pay $510 a month for a two-bedroom apartment, which means that each of the family members live on approximately $10 a day.

Elizabeth and Francisco know how to be economical and can now pay their bills without problem. But they realize their family’s expenses will increase as the kids grow up.

Franshely Rivera, 14, is a 9th grader in Wings Academy in the Bronx. She is also taking ballet classes. Miguel Rivera, 10, is a 5th grader in CS 92 and he plays Little League baseball in “Caribe Little League,” the biggest league for the kids in the Bronx.

But difficulties over the years have not kept the Riveras away from making long-term plans for the future.

“The only thing I want, I dream of, is that my children finish undergraduate school and raise a family if they want,” said Rivera.

College tuition will be difficult to manage. “We are going to save for the kids’ education,” said Rivera about the $1,000 gift from Old Navy.

Miguel, however, would prefer a plasma TV and Nintendo Wii, the latest model video game.

“My children are respectful, obedient and studious,” said Rivera. He loves to spend time with his kids, who takes Miguel to baseball practice and to school. He even taught his son how to ride a bike with his amputated leg.

“In the next three years I would like to take my family to Puerto Rico, I want my children to know their country and to meet our family,” said Rivera.

Though Francisco has spent his entire adult life in hospitals, it is not a cause for disappointment for him. He said he sees hope in operation rooms, consultations, and the pills that he takes.

“I am still alive, thank God. He has given me the strength to go forward and fight for my family which I adore,” said Rivera.

“I haven’t surrendered.”

Posted in Bronx Life, Bronx Neighborhoods, MoneyComments (1)