Thursday, June 20, 2013

Briana Braves All

            She is one of the strongest young Latina mothers in the world and a Latina Still Standing.
         Briana Escarcega's child was born with two abnormal chromosomes. The doctors had never seen a case like baby Nakai's; his abnormal genes resulted in a host of life-threatening health issues.
         Briana was just 24 years old when she gave birth to Nakai. She says she did everything right and had a perfect pregnancy. This young Latina mother had no idea how her life was going to change after September 2, 2010. Briana works a full-time job. She stays up with her son until 2-3 a.m. every night and has to wake up for work at 7 a.m. each day. But she does it without complaining.
         She says she’s lucky to get three to four hours of sleep each night because Nakai has to be fed through a feeding tube every four hours. His blood sugars have to be checked twice a day because he is hypoglycemic. He uses a breathing machine one to two times daily when he is not sick; when he is ill, the machine is needed every three hours. Nakai had nine surgeries in his first two and a half years of life.
         Nakai had his appendix removed; an umbilical hernia and the skull have been operated on. He's had an intensive malrotation, in which his intestines were removed, untangled and replaced. All this was done in his first two months of life. Later, he got pneumonia. A month later, a nissen fundoplication was performed to treat gastroesophageal reflux, which was causing the pneumonia to worsen. He now has only one lung that works. Little Nakai was born with dextrocardia (the heart on the right side of the chest) and his heart has two holes. He is also losing his eyesight, but that doesn't stop little Nakai from smiling when he hears his mother's voice.
         The hardest part is watching her son go through these struggles, but Briana says, "I won't cry in front of him anymore; I stopped doing that because I want him to be strong."
            She's learned to appreciate everything in this life so much more, she says, and she thanks God every day for Nakai. She is truly grateful to have him. She never complains or asks, “Why me?”
            There is a bright side for Briana – Nakai lights up her life and so many others in her family have been inspired by his life’s journey.
            Nakai hasn't just changed her life, but that of everyone he comes in contact with, even the doctors and nurses. His mother reports that he smiles a lot, loves attention and being around people.

         The doctors won’t predict his life expectancy; Nakai’s condition is unique. "I don't know what the future holds, says Briana, “Nakai hasn't gained any weight in more than a year, due to a growth hormone defect." She takes it one day at a time and won’t lose hope.
         They say that God doesn't give you more than you can handle. “I don’t know who told God I could handle this,” says Briana. “But I will continue to do my best to take care of God’s child.” She said Nakai has definitely changed her life – for the better; she now has more compassion and a stronger faith as a result of her little milagro, Nakai.
Briana Escarcega truly is a Latina Still Standing.

The compassion of Eddie Basha

      I am a Latina Still Standing, but not of my own accord. I stand tall today because of my faith, family and friends – one of whom has just been laid to rest.

            Nine years ago, I became friends with a man named Eddie Basha. He was godsend to me during one of the most difficult periods of my life. 

            My older sister, 40 years old at the time, had a surgery she nearly died. What should have been a simple medical procedure turned into the worst nightmare for my sister; she was in a coma for several months and her prognosis wasn't good. While she was in intensive care, I had started a new job as the communication and public affairs director for Basha’s, Inc., and had met with each of the senior leadership team, which included Basha family members and the CEO, Eddie Basha.

            I told them about my sister because her situation was weighing on me so much. Eddie made special trips regularly to my office to ask how my sister was doing; we even prayed a couple times. Less than two months into the job, I was called away from planning a big conference for our store managers and directors and rushed to the hospital to sign for acute dialysis when I was told that my sister's kidneys were failing. While I was waiting in the lobby to see if my sister was going to make it, I received a phone call from someone asking me where I was. I informed them that I was in the lobby of the hospital. I was told to stay there.

            I saw a friend of my father's walk in with a DPS officer and they asked me to sit down. They told me my father was just killed on the I-17 in Phoenix. Much of what happened after that moment is still a blur to me, but at some point I had to call my job and let them know what had happened; that I would need to take some time off. I didn't know what they would say, considering I had been on the job less than two months. With no hesitation, I was told to take as much time as was needed and that they were all praying for me.

            While I was off, Eddie's office informed me that he wanted to provide the food for the reception after the services for my father. I was so moved by his kindness. On the day of the services in a packed church in south Phoenix, I saw Eddie, his sons, the president of Basha's and many of the senior leadership walk into the church to pay their respects to my father, a man they never knew. That is an example of the compassion and support that has enabled me to be a Latina Still Standing.

That is the kind of man Mr. Eddie Basha was to me and to countless other people. I am honored to have known him and to have called him my friend. I am grateful that God sent me to work for Eddie and his family during one of the toughest times in my life, and I believe God used one of His special servants to lift me up while I was down.

When I heard of the news of Eddie's passing, my heart was heavy and I felt a tremendous loss. I am grateful to have personally experienced Eddie's generous spirit, his witty sense of humor and his compassion for people.

Thank you for extending your hand out to me in my time of need. Descanse en paz, EB.