Cancer doesn't discriminate. It also isn't cheap.
Chula Vista resident Samuel Gilley Jr. found that out on St. Patrick’s Day last year when he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, which spread to his liver.
Despite early warnings, Gilley, 41, did not go to the doctor because he didn’t have medical insurance.
Like millions of Americans, he simply can’t afford it.
In an effort to pay off creditors, Gilley is raising money through fundraisers and reaching out through Facebook for as much as $20,000 to offset outstanding medical bills.
It was mid-March last year, when Gilley began having chest pains at work. After a co-worker called 911 he was rushed to Sharp Memorial.
Following a colonoscopy, doctors told Gilley they found a two-inch tumor.
“The doctor said, ‘You have three to five years to live’ (unless it goes into remission),” Gilley said. “I was devastated when I found out. I told my wife to take my son and leave. I was so scared I didn’t know how to react.”
Doctors removed half of his colon.
“They said it was probably in my body for a year to two years and that’s why it grew so much,” he said.
Gilley especially wants to beat his cancer for his son.
“I’m going to see my son graduate from high school,” Gilley said choking back tears. “He means the world to me. I want to see him grow up.”
Gilley is receiving chemo treatment at the Sharp outpatient pavilion.
“I do chemotherapy three straight Monday in a row and have one Monday off,” he said.
While Gilley is on disability and receives Medi-Cal, he must pay $3,200 every month, which his parents currently cover.
“We’re barely able to afford my premium right now to keep me around,” Gilley said.
Gilley said it’s important for him to share his story not only to advertise fundraisers to help pay for medical costs, but also to warn others of potential signs.
“For me, when I was going to the restroom there was blood in my stool but I didn’t recognize it because I’m color blind,” he said. “About seven months before I was diagnosed I was having really bad pains in my stomach.”
He also plans to create a documentary about his experience.
“…So that when people have the signs they go get them checked out instead of ignoring it like I did,” Gilley said.
Gilley was a volunteer at Chula Vista National Little League and South Bay Little League.
A benefit will be held for Gilley at La Bella’s on Third Avenue in Chula Vista Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the game room and café.
La Bella’s co-owner Stan Dale said Gilley is a former employee he’s known for years.
“He was an ex-employee that we developed a relationship with over the years,” Dale said. “He’s a friend that’s sick and needs help.”