Arcadia Woman Survives Cancer and Returns to Work

Renee Soriano and her family on National Survivor Day in 2019. – Courtesy photo / Renee Soriano

By Galen Patterson

In September of 2015 Renee Soriano had just given birth to her third child via C- section when she began to notice strange health problems.

Her body wasn’t operating the way it used to. She bruised easily, had irregular bleeding patterns and was continuously exhausted, which she may have overlooked due to the fact that she was working, going to school and raising three children.

By the time she ought to have recovered from child birth, she had not yet done so. After she contacted a doctor and ran some tests, she found that her blood cell levels were abnormally low. Her doctor thought she may be anemic. After more testing, she received a call from her doctor advising her to go to the emergency room very quickly, “and I never left,” said Soriano.

She says that the emergency room wait usually takes a while, but this time, she was taken in immediately. At Arcadia Methodist Hospital she was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of leukemia with mutations, a form of cancer that is rare for a female in her 40s to develop.

She shared her diagnosis with her co-workers at The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and, in a stroke of luck, one of her co-workers happened to run into a high-ranking member of a local hospital, who admitted and treated her rapidly.

Undergoing her second round of chemotherapy. – Courtesy photo / Renee Soriano

Renee needed a bone marrow donor. She had a family member that was a match, but could not donate. Then the hospital found a 22 year-old woman in Long Island who was a 90 percent match and willing to donate. On Aug. 23, 2016, Renee received the surgery that saved her life, a day that medical professionals tend to refer to as a re-birth day.

After weeks of recovery, she went back to work with the help of Allsup Employment Services. Allsup participates in a program called Ticket To Work, which helped Renee and her family make ends meet while she was in recovery. “Our organization is unique in that we are able to help people through this transition from the beginning of their claim with Allsup and then to return to work through Allsup Employment Services,” Allsup told Arcadia Weekly through correspondence.

Furthermore, Allsup made her life easier, so she could focus on recovery and contributing to society through work. Years later, she is still using Allsup services while she is in remission.

Renee on the day of her biopsy. They day she learned she was in remission. – Courtesy photo / Renee Soriano

Cancer takes time to develop, and the symptoms take time to disappear, even after treatment. Remission after cancer is that time frame between the treatment and cure, when the symptoms have lessened or can no longer be detected. This is widely considered to take 5 years with weekly, monthly and seasonal checkups. Renee is 3 years into remission and things are going well. Renee occasionally blogs about her experience with cancer and recovery, and writes to inspire others on coffee-n-ink.com

She celebrates her re-birth day in one way or another. Early on the celebrations were small, a trip to Starbucks or a day at the beach. For her cure though, Renee plans to go to Hawaii.

For those needing help navigating the disability with employment process can contact Allsup at FileSSDI.Allsup.com, and AllsupEmploymentServices.com for free return-to-work assistance.

August 15, 2019

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Galen Patterson

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