By Diana Cisneros

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Enrique Sanchez, 49, still remembers July 14, 2015. That was the date when laboratory tests confirmed what the trucker had: multiple myeloma.

It’s a cancer formed by plasma cells that have turned malignant. Normal plasma cells are found in the bone marrow and are an important part of the immune system. Few cases of the disease are linked to risk factors that can be avoided, so there is no known way to prevent most multiple myelomas from developing.

The disease weakens the kidneys and bones. At the time of his diagnosis, Sanchez’s kidneys were functioning at 12 percent capacity. He developed a C-2 vertebral fracture because of which he couldn’t return to work, which resulted in an end to his employer-sponsored health benefits.

Sanchez’s life became a nightmare. He was jobless, had limited mobility and endless pain. Paying his medical bills and supporting his wife and three children, all of whom were in college, became very challenging.

As Sanchez transitioned into an unfamiliar world of medical jargon, he said he became scared. He feared what the future held for him.

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