For 80-year-old Chicagoan Guillermo Bill Perez, giving up was never an option. Diagnosed with throat squamous cell carcinoma in May 2009, Perez has been fighting his cancer with strength and determination. “The anguish of sitting for four-plus hours of chemo drove me amok, but I kept a strong willingness to beat the odds given to me,” he says.
This fight was never easy. After his initial diagnosis, Perez’s doctor gave him only a 40 percent chance of seeing Christmas that year. In shock, Perez began receiving chemotherapy infusions through tubes in his stomach and shoulder. He lost his bottom teeth to the radiation, but found solace in his friends. “Close friends took care of me when I ended up in the emergency room of Weiss Memorial Hospital three times,” Perez says. “I gained new true friends, but I lost the trust of some that I thought were friends.”
Thanks to the support of his church community, Perez faced his cancer with renewed strength and unshakeable faith. Now, nine years after his diagnosis, Perez’s tongue and the left side of his throat are tumor-free. He greets each day with gratitude. “I thank the Lord for each day that he is still giving me,” he says. “After my doctor told me about my victory after five years [of treatment], my eyes got watery. I thought of my friends who have died of cancer, and yet I’m still alive.”