By: Isalena Olmeda Rodriguez
No he is not a robot.
Eliezer Hernandez Velez is a normal 74 year old resident of the city of San German but when he starts to talk all the stares are on him. It is his microphone that he needs for talk that makes him sound like a robot. He lost his vocal cords in the summer of 1993, a year after his cancer diagnosis. His first diagnostic came back negative but was Dr. M. Ortiz Caraballo, a young intern at the time, trusted his instincts and knew that Eliezer’s cough was not normal. He made a second exam and exactly as he said it came back positive this time.
With that positive result his life began to change. First, it started with frequent doctor appointments to the point he had to stop working. Then, his three daughters arranged everything for Eliezer to go to Connecticut to search for a treatment and a second chance of life. The solutions doctors found was to remove all his vocal cords.
The operation was made at Yale University. Being able to enter to a program at Yale was a blessing of its own for him because the University paid for everything. Eliezer was very positive but his only concern was as he says “everything was fine for me but when I start thinking and realizing that after the operation I will not be able to talk anymore, that was what really hurt me and was, “everything was fine for me but when I started thinking and realizing that after the operation I will not be able to talk anymore, that was what really hurt me and was the difficult part of this situation”.
Fortunately. in the Yale University they gave him a microphone and they taught him how to use it also they give him speech therapy.
In the past Eliezer was a normal child that had a normal childhood with his father Ferrer Hernandez and Lydia Velez. He was the only child and they were from the city of Mayaguez but in the early 50’s they migrated to Brooklyn for a chance of a better life, he was only 13. In Brooklyn he was very active: he obtained his High School diploma, his first job in a furniture factory and met his first wife. He got married in 1959 and with her they conceived three daughters
. His marriage ended nine years later and he came back to Puerto Rico. In 1979, in the city of Mayaguez, he meet is second and current wife, Luz Elena Olmeda Sanabria. His second marriage was a complete success. His daughters were very supportive and understanding; they are like best friends.
Luz Elena was a support for Eliezer throughout this hard journey of going into and going out of cancer. She stayed must of the time in Puerto Rico working but was constantly fling to Connecticut. She was with him in his operation and through his recovery. Luz Elena has always encouraged him to keep his life as normal as can be and that is what he has done.
Currently , he is the bread winner even now at 74. As Luz Elena says when she remembers all this journey, “he has being the most wonderful, strong and hardworking man in the world”. She refers to his faith and for never giving up and always fighting to have a normal as possible life.
Eliezer had a hard time and also his whole family but he demonstrated how strong he can be emotional and physical. He considers himself a lucky man because in all this struggle his daughters and his wife demonstrated an unconditional love and support, that was a big deal and helped in his recovery. He is an inspiration for others who are struggling with cancer or have a loved one who is in this unfortunate situation.
Eliezer’s message for people in this struggle is “faith and hope are the most important things to have in mind always, and to do everything to fight for your life with a positive attitude.” He adds, “ always thank God for another day and for being cancer free.”
Now the cancer is a part of his past life and just a memory. He lives his life normally. He has being married for 30 years and has a lovely relationship with his wife. He is grandfather of seven boys and three girls, his daughters are in the United States and are married but they are in constant communication via phone, facebook and frequent visit. A prove of how love and faith can help a man recover from anything.