NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Forget the flowers and cards.
She has been fighting pancreatic cancer since August, and her son plans on joining in with thousands of other to raise money to help find a cure.
Compassion is what keeps their Bronx household going, so “proud” is a word used frequently between the mother-son duo who live there.
“I wanted Juan to be involved with the community and helping, changing one life, one life at a time,” said Vilma Delgado.
But the life Juan DeJesus is helping this time is Vilma’s, his 60-year-old mother. She worked three jobs at times and raised him all alone.
“I can’t express gratitude for everything she has done for me, everything she has sacrificed for me,” he said.
Three years ago, the two began a mission together: To get fit and healthy. Juan exercised six days a week for two hours at a time. He’s lost a total of 220 pounds. Vilma lost 140, but what she thought was a side effect from her weight loss surgery turned out to be stage four pancreatic cancer.
“That’s something that tears me up, because I can’t do anything, just fight it,” she said.
“I really did wish I could take it from her but I can’t so I just hope to be some strength in her life,” Juan said.
When she was diagnosed in August, Juan was in the police academy, but couldn’t pass a portion of the physical fitness test. However, that ended up giving him more time to help his mom.
“Maybe it was my time to fail so I can come back stronger by seeing the strength that lives in her,” Juan said.
While his mother recently finished her first round of radiation, the 35-year-old is training not just to try his luck for a second time in the academy, but getting ready for a race at Yankee Stadium that supports cancer research.
“If it can’t help her, it will help someone and frankly, I don’t want anyone to go through this,” Juan said.
This Saturday, thousands will participate in the Damon Runyon 5k Run/Walk. Over the last 10 years, the event raised $5.2 million.
“I think the sense in the stadium during this event is always one of optimism and hope,” said Yung Lie, the president and CEO of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation.
Next to their compassion, those are two more feelings this family will surely experience this weekend.