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Genaro Hernandez Nears Final Bell ... Losing Fight With Cancer
Genaro Hernandez Nears Final Bell!
June 2, 2011 By Michele Chong
I have some very sad news to report: Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez is heading into his last–and final round–in his courageous battle against the rare form of cancer he has been fighting since October 2008 when the first of his malignant tumors were found.
Today I bring the worst news of all: Genaro is now in his South Orange County home with his wife Liliana, and their kids Amanda and Steven as he awaits the final bell. Nothing more can be done; treatment to fight the cancer has ceased–and he is now partially paralyzed from the waist down. Somber news indeed. It looks like this time it will be the ultimate round for the champ, the fatal blow in his brave three-year fight against cancer.
In my exclusive chat with Genaro’s brother Rudy Hernandez, a boxing trainer and renowned cutman, the family was strong and stoic in having to sadly face the inevitable. For the brothers, this is a tragic road they’ve traveled down before; both their mother and father had cancer. Speaking with Rudy this morning, the cornerman and UFC cutman told me that Genaro had been in the hospital on Monday, by Wednesday he was paralyzed in his legs, and is now at home waiting for that very last bell.
“He still has the fighting mentality; he’s still feisty–with that warrior mentality!” his brother tells me with a small chuckle. “But he’s home now, nothing medically can be done anymore. We’re just trying to keep him as comfortable as possible and trying to lift up his spirits in any way we can.” Rudy has been a pillar of strength throughout this heartbreaking ordeal and he said they will all be there for Genaro’s wife and two young children too.
There are 12 rounds in a championship fight and I have watched “Chicanito,” the true warrior he is, bravely fight back against this deadly form of cancer round after round. Throughout this time, I have shared happy news as well in a roller-coaster timeline that only a fighter like Genaro would be able to survive.
After first diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma (usually found primarily in children) in the fall of 2008, I have shared many updates about Genaro. As a former WBC Super Featherweight Champion, “Chicanito” has been a popular fan favorite in the community and a boxer I’ve had the honor of getting to know through the years.
In January 2009, the World Boxing Council (WBC) hosted a benefit dinner and gala as a tribute to the Southern California fighter. At that time, while he was on stage he was on shaky legs, rocked by the brutal rounds of chemotherapy that affected his voice, appetite, strength and caused him to lose his hair. Behind the scenes, I watched as the proud boxer had to steady himself on the shoulders of others while trying to get to his feet–and stay on his feet. But once the frail ex-champ took the stage with his family, friends and fellow champions, his smile and strength was unmistakable. There’s a reason why the Los Angeles slugger became a champ. When he was knocked down by cancer, he kept getting back up.
Unfortunately, Genaro (38-2-1, 17 KOs) was continuously knocked to the canvas by the devastating punches we never see coming.
I had just called him a couple of weeks ago to wish him a “Happy Birthday” as the champ celebrated his 45th year on May 10. Whenever I would call him for updates, sometimes it was good news, other times the news was bleak. In April 2009 I was thrilled to write about his first remission. But in January 2010, I was forced to report that the aggressive cancer had returned. In June 2010 there was another brief remission for “Chicanito.” Then in January of this year, things took a turn for the worse. With his white blood cell count low, the chemo and radiation continued but by then the cancer had spread throughout his body with new spots of the vicious disease appearing in brand new places.
Through these ups and downs, he would always remain optimistic while I would marvel at how he never complained. He was also adamant about raising awareness in preventing cancer–and early detection of the deadly disease. And he would always say, “I will NOT give up!” And he never did.
As he would tell me about his endless trips to M.D. Anderson in Houston, Texas, Genaro would also always tell me of the many “angels” who have helped him along the way like Bob Arum, Top Rank, the Japanese promoter Teiken, the WBC, Thompson Boxing Promotions, his brother Rudy, friends, family and fans, among the countless individuals and organizations who have all supported him in every round of his battle.
Fans loved the tough Mexican warrior for his clashes against Floyd Mayweather Jr., Azumah Nelson, Jorge Paez, Oscar De La Hoya, Carlos “Famoso” Hernandez, and so many others. He also stepped in many times to lend time and support to others; he was the first to give back to those in desperate need. I know he visited Childrens Hospital Los Angeles many times. I know he would buy Christmas gifts for children suffering from cancer. And I know he was always at the annual WBCares events to help kids. He did not do any of this for a publicity stunt or any hidden agenda. That I know. I was there on several occasions and observed Genaro giving back to others, even while he was in pain battling his own losing diagnosis. And in March of this year, he came out to attend the WBC Japan Relief event in L.A. In a weakened state, he was still fighting his grim fate.
While undergoing treatment, he still trained boxers and also did ringside commentary for Top Rank. I saw him in action last December at the Honda Center for the Urbano Antillon-Humberto Soto fight. While he had to be in some discomfort then, he never showed it. Always professional, always prepared, we were all accustomed to seeing Genaro by the boxing ring, right where he belonged.
And he has fought till the very end. Still swingin’ till that end comes.
Now he is approaching that last round–and ultimately the final bell.
In signing off with his brother Rudy, I told him I’d spread the word and send prayers their way–and that maybe the power of prayer can somehow work one last miracle. Rudy Hernandez, a former fighter himself, also knows when you have to throw in the towel. “Michele, without sounding disrespectful…This time not even God can help him,” he said softly, voice caught with emotion. “People say, ‘As the story is written…No one will die before his time.’ And everyone has their time…”
No one has fought more valiantly than Genaro Hernandez.
He is the exact definition of a “FIGHTER”: fight•er, noun /ˈfītər/ A person or animal that fights, esp. as a soldier or a boxer; A person who does not easily admit defeat in spite of difficulties or opposition.
Cancer proved to be his most difficult opposition ever.
NOW DEFEAT IS NEAR.
When he loses this final battle, I will remember him for the courage, heart and pure strength he showed us all.
My friend “Chicanito” is a true fighter. A TRUE CHAMPION.
Please keep the champ and his family in your prayers.
Well this sucks.