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Diana Arellano

Diagnosis Journey

Diana’s story begins in nursing school, where she had just started a one-year program, when she first experienced some strange symptoms. Early signs were overlooked due to her young age and lack of family history, so the doctor attributed her symptoms to stress. In February, Diana secured a job, but by March, her symptoms worsened. Insurance initially refused to cover a colonoscopy for Diana but approved an ultrasound, which yielded no results. Subsequent CT scans provided no answers until her elevated platelets and anemia prompted insurance to approve the colonoscopy she needed.

It was only when I woke up from that colonoscopy to find myself surrounded by tearful nurses that I realized, despite the reassurance from my medical team, the concerns I had about my health were justified and I was right to advocate for myself and push for answers.

Diana Arellano

SAMFund Grant Recipient, California

Her persistence led to a biopsy, ultimately diagnosing Diana, at just 32 years old, with colorectal cancer. Luis, Diana’s husband, played a pivotal role in expediting her access to treatment through his connections as a medical student at UC Davis, where Diana was treated. Diana’s parents and siblings live in Southern California, but with full time jobs it was difficult for them to take time off and be present during her treatment. They came up to help Diana as often as they could, but with no immediate family nearby, Luis was Diana’s primary source of support.

 

Struggles on the Path to Parenthood

Diana and Luis are first-generation college students, committed to their education and the pursuit of nursing school and medical school respectively. They had postponed starting a family to focus on their academic goals. After Diana’s diagnosis, they faced a long road ahead with the added challenge of navigating fertility issues caused by the treatments.

Luis and I had always dreamed of starting a family. No one told me during treatment that it would render me unable to carry my own child!

Diana Arellano

SAMFund Grant Recipient, California

Working towards starting a family was a source of positivity for Diana during treatment, but her hopes were constantly tested by the harsh realities of infertility and other side effects of cancer. Diana cited how she had a great oncologist but also discussed the lack of transparency regarding treatment’s impact on fertility options.

The disappointment didn’t end there; surrogacy led to further discouragement following two failed attempts. Diana and Luis struggled to decide on their next steps, but ultimately found hope through a personal connection, and despite the persistence of financial concerns, they were buoyed by the willingness of someone close to them to help fulfill their dream.

 

Impact of EMF’s SAMFund Grant

Diana’s friend Anna, who faced a similar battle with cancer, understood the financial strain that accompanies such a diagnosis, and encouraged Diana to apply for a SAMFund grant, which would help  alleviate the financial burden of pursuing parenthood amidst their medical expenses. Anna’s introduction to EMF’s SAMFund grant was a turning point in Diana and Luis’s journey. The grant provided by EMF’s family building program brought much-needed relief, covering outstanding medical bills and offering a sense of security during a tumultuous time. For Diana and Luis, the support extended by EMF’s SAMFund grant was an unexpected miracle.

Previously, surrogacy had always felt out of reach for us, but with the assistance of EMF’s SAMFund family building grant, we found ourselves capable of not only being financially prepared for the birth of our child but also to compensate our surrogate, who played a pivotal role in our family building journey.

Diana Arellano

SAMFund Grant Recipient, California

Diana Today

Diana’s journey is a remarkable story of resilience and ultimately, triumph. Her daughter, Dahlia, was born in April of 2024. Diana’s experience navigating cancer and the journey to build her family also sparked a career transition, leading her to pursue pediatric oncology at UCSF. Motivated by her own experience, she is driven by a desire to support others facing similar challenges.

Thanks to Expect Miracles Foundation’s SAMFund family building grant program, I welcomed my daughter Dahlia into the world with a sense of financial security.

Diana Arellano

SAMFund Grant Recipient, California

With the birth of her daughter by a surrogate she now considers family, Diana is filled with gratitude, and despite all the bumps in the road along the way, they see their daughter now and know that it was all worth it.

About EMF’s SAMFund Grant Program

Due to the high costs associated with treatment and survivorship, young adults experience financial toxicity at a greater level than any other age group.  SAMFund grants help to alleviate the financial burden resulting from cancer treatment.

Thank you to donors for supporting EMF’s SAMFund Grant Program. Because of your generosity, we are helping young adult cancer survivors build bridges to help them get where they were intended to go before cancer disrupted their lives.

What SAMFund Grant Recipients Say

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Join us in the fight against cancer and be part of the community that is making miracles happen today. Your donation is an investment in our Research and Discovery Funds, which invests in life-saving cancer research, and EMF’s SAMFund, which provides financial assistance for young adult cancer survivors.

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Make Miracles

Join us in the fight against cancer and be part of the community that is making miracles happen today. Your donation is an investment in our Innovation and Discovery Funds, which invests in life-saving cancer research, and EMF's SAMFund, which provides financial assistance for young adult cancer survivors.

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