From the patio at her Colorado Springs condo, Erika has a stunning view of Pikes Peak. But she’s dreaming of her days on the beach back in Florida.
“I would take my jet ski out on my weekends and go out [on the water] and only come back to shore just to get more gas,” she remembers. “I would go from eight ‘til eight.”
Erika, who is originally from Panama, has been around the ocean for her entire life. Her move to Colorado changed that, but fortunately, she sees the beach in her near future. Her son, a high school senior and youth soccer coach, is looking at colleges in California and Florida. Erika’s doctors also say a warmer climate would be good for her health.
Erika has faced a number of ongoing health challenges. In February, she began experiencing painful symptoms that resulted in a serious diagnosis, surgery, and aggressive treatments. “I had to be hospitalized for five days and they had to give me the treatment for those five days nonstop,” she said. Afterward, Erika would go home for 21 days- and then head back to the hospital for the same cycle, six more times.
Erika’s treatments left her extremely weak. “Especially after the first treatments, I got out of it and I was holding on to the furniture,” she said. “I was so weak my legs were kind of giving out.”
Erika’s doctors gave her a walker after she almost fell on the way to an appointment. And they referred her to Project Angel Heart for help with meals. They knew she couldn’t cook in her condition, especially because she also cares for her 17-year-old son and 90-year-old mother.
“I always cooked for them,” says Erika. “And I had to cook a special meal for my mom because she’s diabetic.”
Thankfully, Project Angel Heart was able to provide nourishing meals for everyone so that Erika could rest. Erika’s mom particularly liked the soups. And her son? Pasta dishes.
Though Erika is still recovering, she’s starting her job again from home so that she can support her family. She doesn’t feel ready yet—but she’s maintaining a positive outlook.
She’s training a German shepherd puppy, Rogue, to be a service animal for her mom. And she’s planning her move back to the beach, where she wants to get back on a surfboard.
“I haven’t surfed in a while,” she says. The closest she’s been to the ocean in years is a recent trip to Water World with her son, where she had a great time in the wave pool. “I’m sure that when I get on a surfboard I’m going to fall down and all that. But I know I can get it. I will get back on it.”