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'You don’t know how much you love your voice until you don’t have it any more'

Zoe Greszler • Jan 24, 2017 at 3:00 PM

Renae Ramirez Hernandez is a 37-years-old wife and mother with five children with ages ranging from 3 1/2 to 19 years, enough to keep anyone happily busy.

Hernandez received bad news, though, in 2007 that would be the beginning of a chain of events that would change her life.

First she was diagnosed with cancer of her thyroid, thymus and para-thyroid glands. During the removal of the organs, Hernandez said her vocal cords were accidentally paralyzed.

In 2014 she also was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that required many rounds of chemo and radiation. Then in 2016 her cancer, which had been in remission, returned as tumors. 

Perhaps one of the biggest blows came a couple a months ago, though.

“On Nov. 28 I had my left vocal cord removed and some of my vocal box, my left side, removed (because of the cancer) which left me to talk like this the rest of my life,” the mother said in a raspy whisper.

Without the full set of vocal cords and vocal box, her body is unable to make a full sound pass through her lips and has left her very short of breath.

“On Dec. 9 Fisher-Titus (Medical Center) found what they thought was a blood clot on the outside of my windpipe. Well, they did a biopsy and found out it looks like it’s a cancerous tumor and they think it may have spread to my lymph-nodes, so I find out (soon) when my surgery will be. They’re going to remove that (windpipe) and probably my lymph-nodes to prevent it from spreading.

“You don’t know how much you love your voice until you don’t have it any more,” she added through tears. “I used to sing to my kids all the time and now I have to whisper. I used to read to them and it’s hard. I have to do it all in a whisper now.”

She said it’s her children who help her get through, but they’re also the ones she fears are taking the heaviest load from the series of unfortunate events. 

“Without my kids it would be a lot harder,” she said. 

“Them, my family, my parents for helping us and letting us move in with them. I know that I’m the one who has cancer, but to see the effect that it has on my kids, just to see them have to go through this. And I know my mom and dad are effected, they have seven of us living with them and it’s only a three-bedroom, one-bathroom house. This just kills me. But hopefully once this cancer is gone we can move on and come back to Norwalk.”

Hernandez is living with her parents in Wakeman and making the daily drive to take the children to and from school.

Keeping their sights set on a happier time is what helps this family get through the hard times.

“Vacation,” she said. “Usually we go every year with my family. So that’s right now, that’s their focus — to go on vacation.”

When asked where she would want to go if she could vacation anywhere, Hernandez said she leaves it to the children to decide, who will “probably choose Florida.”

To help the family through the “inancial, physical and mental stress of the events the family has been through with Hernandez’s illnesses, the Norwalk Eagles asked to put on a benefit for the family. Hernadez said she doesn’t know many details because the event is meant to be a surprise so she doesn’t have to worry and because her family is “not used to asking for help.”

“We were sort of raised if you needed help, you just didn’t talk about it,” she said. “So it’s kind of hard. They’re so kind though. They wanted to help.”

The benefit will run from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Norwalk Eagle’s Club, where a $10 donation is asked for the spaghetti dinner. The meal will include spaghetti, salad, breads and desserts. There will also be a 50/50, Chinese raffles, Eagle Riders jail event and D.J. Rob Rhineberger will provide entertainment for the night.

The Eagles asked that if anyone would like more information or to donate to the cause that they call 419-577-4425.

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