ROCKINGHAM — Using 17 of gallons of distilled water each day to maintain a special diet has become costly for Jonathan Hernandez and his family.
For Hernandez, though, it is necessary. And life-saving.
The Richmond Senior High School has been battling metastatic osteosarcoma since 2010. Distilled water has become an integral part of Hernandez’s routine. The amount required for each day was becoming too expensive for the family to be able to afford.
His mother, Diana Janica, explained the reason for distilled water in his routine.
“We needed the water not just for washing his food, but for everything, including his showers,” Janica said. “It is a very important part of his treatment.”
Two weeks ago the family was able to install an automatic water distiller thanks to donations from a number of places around Richmond County.
“We had donations not only from the filter, but also for the service,” Janica said. “Bascom Hatcher donated his time with the plumbing and Richard McRae donated his time to work on the electrical portion. And Susan McInnis and Marshall Berry helped so much in coordinating the process of getting the distiller.”
The distiller is no ordinary filter that one would find in your everyday store. It is nearly as tall as Hernandez, who stands close to 6 feet tall. The distiller removes all impurities in the water — giving the family 42 gallons per day, with 80 gallons in a reserve tank.
“It comes right into the house where it is needed,” Janica said as she pointed to one of the sources attached to the kitchen sink. “Now it isn’t an issue like it was.”
Three years ago the doctors didn’t give Hernandez much hope when he was first diagnosed.
“The doctors said that chemotherapy would only add a year or two to his life,” Janica said.
It is now 2013 and Hernandez is still fighting.
His father, Paglo Hernandez, found a unique treatment to help fight against the cancer.
In 2010, Hernandez began a special diet with the Gerson Institute to help him fight the cancer as an alternative to chemotherapy. The Gerson Institute is a California-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the holistic treatment of cancer and other degenerative diseases.
For Hernandez, the diet is all organic that has many restrictions on what he can and cannot eat.
“It requires 22 pounds of produce daily,” Janica said. “It is very expensive.”
It is because of this diet that Hernandez needs such an enormous amount of water.
The food that Hernandez eats daily has to be washed extensively before he can consume the food. Distilled water is needed to properly clean the food from all chemicals. Chemicals in tap water would only be absorbed by the produce if it were washed in it.
“We are very grateful to the First United Methodist Church in Rockingham who helped keep up with the amount of water we needed,” Janica said. “They donated thousands of gallons of water for Jonathan for three years. But we needed something a bit more permanent since it was so much.”
Hernandez could only smile as his mother explained the finer details.
“He is still continuing his life and getting stronger everyday,” Janica said.
Hernandez said he plans to go to college one day before moving back to Rockingham. He wants to find a way to somehow give back to the community that has helped him and his family through so much.
“I’m not afraid of death,” Hernandez said. “But I still want to live out the purpose I was put here for.”
Hernandez, and his family, can only thank all those that have been there from the very beginning pushing them forward.
“Rockingham really is the best place to live,” Janica said.
Hernandez is still continuing his treatment and its cost is around $2,500 per month. Anyone wishing to donate may do so through Roberdel Baptist Church or to Nature’s Own in Pinehurst.