New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 11, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas
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Neurology Clinic of Central TexasPage 10A — Herald-Zeitung — Sunday, December 11, 2005
CONTINUED FROM Page 1A
Illness does not derail woman’s spirit
are willing to sacrifice for their mom’s special day.
“She’s letting me wear flipflops to the reception,” said Kristie.
The colors are chosen, and the dress has been altered for the day Hope walks down the aisle of Living Waters Worship Center in Seguin.
Though the couple planned an April wedding, the date was moved up to Dec. 17. Time, which was once plentiful for the couple, is becoming more and more precious for Hope and Roland.
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In 2002, Hope was working full time and finishing her education degree at Texas State University. As an overworked mother of two, she dismissed the increasing fatigue or stiffness in her face and hands as signs of stress.
“I saw how my fingers stayed, but I didn’t know what it was," Hope said. “I thought I was either working too hard or exhausted. I was just sleeping a lot, and I literally had to make myself get out of bed.”
A friend suggested that Hope might have a disease called scleroderma, which causes the skin on the hands and face to harden. When she took her oldest daughter to the dentist, the dentist suggested an x-ray, which showed that all the tissue inside her cheeks was dead.
Hope was diagnosed with systemic scleroderma, a terminal disease that causes the tissues of the body, including internal organs, to harden. It eventually leads to fatal organ failure.
New Braunfels Hope Hospice care manager Cindy Beckwith said the disease has spread to Hope’s heart and Though Hope could liiMiftMi MHtflwyeir.oE noose, TTHI''difficult to know how much the disease has spread
• Carpal Tunnel
• Peripheral Neuropathy
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Hope Macias relaxes at her home in Sequin while her family plays games in the dining room. Despite suffering from a life-threatening illness, Macias will marry her longtime boyfriend next weekend.
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without extensive testing, Beckwith said.
Roland said he felt helpless after his girlfriend’s diagnosis.
Though Hope told him he could leave at any time, he decided to stay with her.
“I was really worried. It’s not something you can prepare for,” he said. “It just happened.”
Hope said Valarie and Kristie were depressed and angry after their mother’s diagnosis.
“All our dreams of what could have been were shattered,” Hope said. “That was what was hardest for all of us.”
Working for the future
After Hope ended a difficult relationship with her children’s father, she decided to make a better life for her family. She began working full time while pursuing her bachelor’s degree at Texas State.
She met Roland, a selfdescribed partier, while al a tyas sttiAMMi**-**
“We had totally different backgrounds, and the other
girls who knew him told me not to get with him,” she said. “I said I d give it a try, but he didn t call me hack for a week. The other girls told me he was getting rid of his other girlfriend.”
Roland would not confirm if he was actually breaking up with another girl before calling. However, he did say that he was looking for a change, and Hope seemed like a woman who he could start a new life with.
“I knew right away that she was different. I ve always tried to understand people, and I could understand right away that what she wanted was what I wanted, too,” he said. “I wanted to be settled, I wanted something long-term and that’s what I found.” Hope said that by the second date, Roland was helping with Kristie and Valarie. Even a messy dinner situation wasn’t enough to send him away.
“At dinner, one of the girls spilled her drink all over the place,” Hope recalled. “I panicked more than he did. He just said it was OK.”
Roland said he didn’t mind dating a woman with children because he grew up taking care of his nieces and nephews.
I lope, however, swore never to date a man who already had children.
“I didn't want to deal with the whole stepmom situation,” she said. “My first question was, ‘Do you have any kids?'”
Fortunately, Roland was not a father.
Ile did, however, have to work to repair his reputation with women.
“The longest relationship I was in before this was one year,” he said. “When I took Hope to Christmas with my family, they were really surprised. My brother said, ‘I ley, isn’t this the same girl you
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During their nine-year relationship, Hope and Roland only split up twice. The most recent breakup was about a year ago, right before Hope’s health took a turn for the worst.
She contracted pneumonia but didn’t know it, and lost feeling in the left side of her body.
When Roland heard she was in the hospital, he tried to rush back to her side.
“I told him to leave, but he wanted to stay,” Hope said. “I told him when I first got sick that he did not have to stay with me.”
Kristie and Valerie also were hoping for life to get better after their mother’s graduation. Hope said the family was living in poverty and she wanted so much to bring them into the middle class.
“My children wanted their own home with their own rooms,” she said. “That was basically what I was working for, and it didn’t happen.”
Kristie said she and Valerie ended up taking on a lot of unexpected responsibilities. Though I lope has a regular caretaker and help from I los-pice workers, she still relies on her family.
“When she’s in bed, she needs us to help her up, and we have to help her hold stuff,” Kristie said. “Its pretty different than what other kids deal with.”
Hope said it took a while for her family to heal after her diagnosis. Even now, they struggle with feelings of sadness and frustration.
“Roland, and truly my children, blamed God for a very long time,” Hope said. “They couldn’t believe how much faith I had.”
Path of faith
Hope said she gets her strong faith in God from her grandmothers, who helped
raise her during childhood. After she was diagnosed with scleroderma, Hope and her daughters began attending church regularly at Living Waters Worship Center.
“I believe a home is more happy when everyone participates in church,” Hope said. “There are so many wonderful people that you meet that make you feel wanted and special.”
Kristie said she is in awe of her mother’s faith and courage in the face of illness.
“It makes us not have to worry because she doesn’t,” Kristie said.
Hope said that some family members believe she was chosen by God to bear difficult burdens. One relative said she was chosen because she was the strongest of their family.
Hope has experienced more than one brush with death, but she continues to hang on for her family. She is especially excited to see Kristie graduate from Seguin High School this year.
“At times when I felt like really giving up, Roland would say, ‘You can’t leave us yet. We’re not ready for you to go,’” she said.
Within the last year, Roland started attending services. Hope said her involvement in church helped her decide that she wanted to get married instead of continuing to living with Roland.
“After getting into church, I realized that I didn’t like the way we were living,” she said.
Like many grooms, Roland said he doesn’t completely understand the need for a big wedding. However, he said he doesn’t expect any jitters because he’s already made a lifelong commitment to his bride-to-be.
“She wants a big wedding, and I told her I would give her that much,” he said. “But in my mind, we’re married already."
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