San Benito soldier battles stage 4 cancer as wife wages war against military healthcare
Staff Sgt. Lupe Maldonado has been dedicated to his country and his work.
"As soon as he woke up from surgery he asked when he could go back to work."
His wife Yerika Maldonado skypes with us from their home in Fort Hood where SSG Maldonado is now stationed.
After several tours to Iraq, he's now spending his days at home, fighting for his life.
"He has Stage 4 cancer."
It was only after the Maldonado's turned to a civilian hospital recently that the soldier was told the grave news.
The cancer has spread from his colon to his spleen, pancreas, and lymph nodes.
His wife says if only he had been told sooner, the cancer may have not spread and become inoperable.
"He told his medic while in Iraq that he had blood in his stool and the medic said it was hemorroides. Then he came back and at the army clinic they told him the same thing and said he was clear for duty."
Yerika blames the military physicians who she claims didn't properly check her husband all the times he turned to them in pain.
He finally went to the emergency room on base and they asked him to wait for a month until a scheduled colonoscopy.
When the pain became unbearable, they turned to the civilian hospital. Then came the concerns over whether the military insurance would cover the surgery.
"The day of his surgery he had to sit in the Tricare office for hours begging them to let him live."
Yerika says she is optimistic as her husband takes on the toughest obstacle of his life.
While he fights his battle, she's taken to social media and the airwaves now to wage her own war against the entity that she says has betrayed her family.
Tricare did end up covering the surgery, but since doctors cannot remove the tumor and intense chemotherapy is required.
The family wants to seek a second opinion at MD Anderson.
We contacted Congressman Filemon Vela's office.
They tell us they have opened a case to investigate the Maldonado's issues and to advocate for them.