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The “Crystal’s Angels” support cancer patients with love and support

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The “Crystal’s Angels” support cancer patients with love and support

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The wife and mother-in-law of a cancer patient keeps her legacy alive with Crystal’s Angels.

LA MESA, Calif. — You never know when an angel might come to the aid of someone with cancer through a difficult time. In this Zevely Zone I met the Crystal’s Angels.

Crystal Ojeda was just 34 when she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2015. Crystal had PEH (pulmonary epithelioid hemangioendothelioma), a rare form of lung cancer. She died a year later in 2016. Crystal’s wife and mother-in-law honored her memory with a band known as Crystal’s Angels.

“Why her? It goes through our minds all the time,” Crystal’s mother-in-law Gloria Repik said. “She was only 34 and she didn’t smoke.” Although smoking tobacco was the problem the most dangerous for the creation of lung cancer, lung cancer not related to smoking occurs.

According to the CDC, about 10 to 20 percent of lung cancer cases occur in people who don’t smoke. “It’s still a shock,” said Crystal’s wife, Trini, who is the director of engineering at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. Trini says chemotherapy was about the only place the love of her life would slow down. “When the sun came up her eyeballs woke up, every time the sun went down her eyes would finally close and I would say I could never keep up with this woman,” Trini said.

She and her mother Gloria created a movement known as Crystal’s Angels in honor of Crystal. “It’s wonderful. It keeps her spirit alive,” said Dr. David Botkin of Sharp Grossmont Hospital. He was Crystal’s oncologist who discovered she was a non-smoker living with a pain in her for years, but never checked it. “We know that about 80% of lung cancers occur in people who have a history of smoking or are current smokers, but 20% are non-smokers said Dr. Botkin.

To preserve Crystal’s legacy of love, Trini, along with friends and family, is honoring her memory by raising awareness via the American Lung Association’s (ALA) LUNG FORCE Walk on January 30 at Liberty Station.

The team started in 2017 with 55 walkers and is now one of the largest groups with over 200 walking angels in 2022. Trini described her love for Crystal. “It’s still strong. It will never end, it will never end,” Trini said. The two had been married for just over a year when Crystal was identified. Crystal had never used tobacco, although that smoking is the main problem of danger for the disease.They have a son, Isaiah, who is now 22 years old.

“Crystal started all of this,” Gloria said. When Crystal lost her hair from chemotherapy, she handed out beanies to other patients. “Our hair is our crowning glory,” said Gloria, who handcrafts crystal beanies for anyone with cancer freed from costs with a tag that reads, “In memory of my beautiful daughter-in-law, she has shone on earth now she sparkles in heaven.”

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Gloria had made hundreds of beanies and usually receives thank you notes from patients who learn: “Make them feel beautiful, I hear that often, I hear that a lot, they feel beautiful and I love saying that’s my whole focus,” Gloria said. “As you can see, I like the shine. I had to make them shine. Trini added, ‘She would want us to keep going, she would want us to keep using her voice.’

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To register for the ALA LUNG FORCE walk or for more information, click here.

The ride takes place on Sunday, January 30. It starts at 7:30 am at Liberty Station. Angels are dedicated to serving others who have lost family members to lung cancer, as well as anyone going through the disease so that they never feel alone.

When it comes to lung cancer screening, talk to your doctor about the risks to you. Screening is one of the best ways to detect lung cancer early when it is treatable. For more information, click here.

If you would like to order a personalized Crystal Beanie for free, you can email Gloria at [email protected]

Watch another Zevely Zone below:

The “Crystal’s Angels” support cancer patients with love and support

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