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Felipa G.

Living with the four words you hope you never have to say.

“Before mom got sick…”


They’re the words you hope you never have to say. They tinge every bright memory with the dark reality of the present. But now, they’re the words with which Felipa’s three children have to begin every story.


The impact of Felipa’s illness goes even further, though. 


“Before my mom...

 My Grandma..

My wife...

My daughter...

My sister...

My teacher... sick...” This is how everyone in Felipa’s life recalls all the good times before the bad times began a few years ago. Felipa is very sick, and she had to hear four life-changing words herself: 


“There is no cure”

After years of doctor’s visits, surgeries, and pain, these words cut through Felipa like a knife. But at least she finally had answers to why she had hundreds of tumors, many of which would come right back after removal, and why she was in constant pain. 


Adiposa Dolorosa. Also called Dercum’s disease, this is a super-rare condition characterized by painful folds of fatty (adipose) tissue or the growth of multiple noncancerous fatty tumors called lipomas. It hurts like hell, and it’s incurable. 

Now, Felipa has always been a fighter. The first in her family to graduate college, Felipa earned her Masters of Education, all while raising three children and working with children from low-income families. Her goal in life has always been to help others overcome the barriers, both educational and financial, that she had to hurdle by herself. 

Well, she smashed that goal. Felipa was a dedicated teacher, the rare kind who finds complete fulfillment in changing children’s lives. 


Dercum’s took her purpose from her. 

Instead of spending her days doing what she loves and worked so hard to do --teaching-- Felipa spends 6 HOURS a day hooked up to this crazy-looking lymphatic body drainage pump:

in addition to doing manual lymphatic massages to help with drainage, medicines, supplements, and a strict diet. Her reality used to look like this: 

Fun outfits for school spirit days,

heritage days,

and nerd days.

Now, Felipa’s reality looks like this. The life Felipa worked so hard to build for herself screeched to a halt, and there’s no remedy in sight. 

Living with the “after” would be enough to tear anyone apart. The pain, both physical and mental, has taken its toll, but as we know, Felipa is a fighter. Adversity never held her back in the past, and this condition is nothing she can’t fight through. 


Because she’s a mom...

a grandma..

a wife...

a daughter...

a sister...

a teacher… that’s why she fights.

While there is no cure for Felipa’s condition, there are small things that can make her smile. Seeing her daughter grow up to become a teacher, just like mom, definitely adds some brightness to her life. Getting kisses from her grandson makes even the hardest day a happy one. 


But what if there were something you or I could do to make Felipa’s day-to-day easier? 


Well, guess what Chive Charities fam? You already did it! Felipa reached out to us with a simple request: she wanted to be able to get in and out of the bathroom easier. Her husband had to lift her in and out every time she wanted to shower, and it was just one reality in her life that she wanted to control. 

That’s where you guys came in. Thanks to all you monthly donations, Chive Charities was able to give Felipa a total bathroom makeover! This $13,000 renovation gives Felipa a taste of the freedom and independence that Dercum’s Disease wanted to take from her.

Her old bathroom was old and, frankly, unsafe for her. So we gutted the thing and gave her a space she can actually feel good about using!

Wider hallways and handrails make this bathroom so much safer for Felipa than her old cramped bathroom! If there’s one place you should feel safe, it’s your own home, especially when you are stuck there more often than you’d like to be. 

While this may seem like a small difference in the grand scheme of things, to Felipa this bathroom renovation is everything. This is what “ten percent happier” is all about, and that smile looks about 100% happier to me! 

For many of us, life is a series of before-and-afters. In those after moments, anything that allows us to feel in control of our destiny is, honestly, priceless. If you’re a Chive Charities donor, YOU are what made this piece of safety and independence possible for Felipa, and for so many others whose lives Chive Charities has changed. If you haven’t donated yet, you can make today the day you change someone’s life, and you can do it right HERE!

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