20 years ago Debi Ruelas thought she was going to die.
But she didn TMt let her brain tumor win.
After a successful surgery, Debi had to learn how to walk and talk all over again.
She battled back, got her master's degree and has dedicated her life to helping cancer patients as a social worker at Texas Oncology Center in McAllen.
6 months ago she started a program to help feed patients undergoing chemotherapy, a long and often unpleasant experience.
Debi gives up her lunch money each day and her time to personally bring them comfort by serving up small snacks like chips, crackers and juice.
A patient at the center recognized her selflessness and turned to Action 4 News and FNB Insurance Agency to Pay it 4Ward.
"Oh my god!" Debi said when she saw Malinda Hinojosa walk into the room.
Malinda nominated Debi for the $400 Pay it 4Ward surprise.
"We need more people like you to just be there for these patients," Malinda explained. "You're making a difference in people's lives and like I said you're such an inspiration to me and what you do. On behalf of FNB Insurance and Action 4 News, I am here to Pay it 4Ward!"
Malinda counted out $400 and gave it to her.
Debi said she was shocked.
"But I'm grateful that people have noticed that we're trying to make a difference here and that we're trying to meet the needs of the patients," she said with a tear in her eye.
She called her work a small gesture.
"There's so much that people don't know that cancer patients need and it's the little things that we can do."
But Karen Gonzalez, a spokesperson with FNB Insurance, calls Debi's selflessness the very reason why her agency teams up to pay cash for kindness on Pay it 4Ward.
"I can't imagine what a cancer patient would go through," Karen said. "It's people like Debi that are here doing anything that they can to give them that little bit of comfort that they need. And that's really what the Pay it 4Ward program is all about."
Debi is taking action for people who are in need.
It's one more way to "Pay it 4Ward."
Debi says she plans to use a portion of her Pay it 4Ward prize to help more patients at the cancer center.
Anyone who would like to donate food or learn how to volunteer to help Debi serve lunch can contact the Texas Oncology Center at (956) 687-5150.