By Agrippina Fadel
When Barbara Fonte started a GoFundMe campaign to help her godson Gabriel Nunez pay for expensive cancer treatment, she hoped the community would support it.
She did not expect an avalanche of well wishes, messages of love, and donations. In mere hours the campaign, which started on Presidents Day weekend, far surpassed the original $25K goal, collecting $45,478.
Fonte, of Cutler Bay, was married to Gabriel’s uncle and stayed friends with the family and her godson’s parents. “I always say he is my firstborn because I baptized him when I was only seventeen,” she said.
Gabriel, 32, who lives in Tamarac’s Plum Bay community, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of testicular cancer over three years ago, and since then, exhausting all treatment options available.
Fonte said Gabriel is very resilient and strong and has been handling it quietly with his family. Unfortunately, he recently got the news from his physician at the University of Miami that they had reached the end of what science could do for him within the clinic’s expertise. His physician referred him to an expert in Indiana who has been credited with helping many patients with testicular cancer reach remission.
The high-dose chemotherapy with a stem cell transplant that the Indiana clinic can provide is the last-resort treatment for Gabriel.
According to Fonte, Gabriel is married to Adriana and has two boys depending on him. The treatment and care he needs during this aggressive chemo will require him to relocate with his family for the duration of his treatment and recovery, which can be up to two years. She explained the treatment and the move to another state meant extraordinary expenses above and beyond the family’s means.
Gabriel, who is very private, initially rejected the idea of a GoFundMe campaign. But Fonte assured him this was an extraordinary situation, and there were a lot of people who might want to help.
Fonte published the campaign and, within hours, heard from family members, friends, and coworkers of Gabriel, raising $25,000.
According to Fonte, Gabriel’s company, Ultimate Kronos Group, where he works as a software engineering manager, has been incredible during his battle with cancer. While his coworkers knew he was sick because he lost his hair during previous treatments, they didn’t realize how serious the situation was, and many reached out and supported the campaign.
“I get emotional thinking about the response of the community, and beyond the financial support, the messages, and responses from absolute strangers, people who have never met Gabriel and wanted to help,” Fonte said, adding that the reaction to the campaign has given him hope and a boost of energy, and prepared him to start getting his treatment.
Thanks to the campaign, Gabriel began his treatment at the end of February, undergoing three days of intense chemo, and received the first batch of stem cells via transplant. His next chemotherapy cycle is scheduled for March 17, his son’s birthday.
Gabriel’s family joined him in Indiana to support and care for him during the treatment.
Fonte said the campaign was the silver lining for the family, showing that even when the world is divided, difficult, and going through incredible challenges, humanity is still inherently good.
“It really restores your faith in humanity that people care and root for other people. It gives you hope that things will improve, not just for Gabriel but for everyone; the family is incredibly grateful to everyone who reached out and offered support.”
- Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master's in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.
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