27 Jun Corporate Philanthropy Hits Close to Home With Plaza Home Mortgage®
“I didn’t need sympathy, I needed strength. And that’s what Susan G. Komen® San Diego and Plaza Home Mortgage gave me.” – Soraya Ruelas.
In a span of a few months, Soraya Ruelas, 57, lost her mother, ended a toxic relationship, was laid off from her job, and diagnosed with breast cancer. These life-changing events all happened in succession without time to process each one, leaving Ruelas battling depression and struggling to keep her head above water during the fight of her life.
“I was living off my life savings, struggling to pay my mortgage, and broken. Komen San Diego not only paid my mortgage, put gas in my car, and food on the table, but empowered me to keep fighting,” said Ruelas.”
After being diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer, Ruelas had a mastectomy. She didn’t think much of it, until she woke up without her left breast.
“When I woke up, I felt like my womanhood was stripped from me. I don’t think we realize how much of our womanhood is attached to our breasts, and waking up without mine left me devastated,” said Ruelas.
Ruelas was treated with Cytoxan, Taxotere and Tamoxifen—all drugs developed with the help of Komen-funded research. Ruelas’ family supported her in every way they could, but since no one in her family ever had breast cancer, she struggled to connect with them.
“When I reached out to Komen San Diego, my world changed. They gave me the financial assistance I needed to survive and a care coordinator who lifted me from the overwhelming darkness I was engulfed in,” said Ruelas.
Komen San Diego provides in-home intensive care coordination services for low-income, uninsured, and underserved breast cancer patients throughout San Diego County who are newly diagnosed or living with breast cancer. Care coordinators develop a personalized care plan for each patient to help decrease barriers to treatment and provide linkages to support services.
Komen San Diego also provides financial assistance for breast cancer patients’ most critical needs during treatment. This includes copays, childcare, rent/mortgage, utilities, transportation, food assistance, and any breast cancer related medical device.
After Ruelas’ last radiation treatment in June 2018, she felt strong enough to start working again. She found the courage to apply for a Correspondent Purchase Review Coordinator job with Plaza Home Mortgage. Plaza interviewed then hired Ruelas when she was only one month removed from radiation.
“I had no hair, and Plaza hired me knowing I just finished breast cancer treatment.”
Unbeknownst to Ruelas, since 2013, Plaza Home Mortgage has been a philanthropic leader by generously donating a portion of its revenue to support mobile mammography, screening, diagnostics and financial assistance for breast cancer patients to ensure they can stay in their homes during treatment. Plaza has given over half a million dollars to Komen San Diego.
“What a blessing to be with a company that supported me before I even worked for them,” said Ruelas.”
Now, a year after Ruelas’ last radiation treatment, she wants to give hope to those battling breast cancer.
“I felt alone and depressed during my journey fighting breast cancer. I felt like my life was over. But I’m here to tell you that you are never alone going through this disease. Komen San Diego and companies like Plaza are there to lift us up.”
Ruelas recently married her high school love and is enjoying life with her husband. She savors spending time with her daughter and grandson, and couldn’t be happier in her job with Plaza Home Mortgage.
“I would not be cherishing every day of my life without Komen San Diego and Plaza Home Mortgage. Thank you for being my beacons of light.”