As an EMT with the Port Jervis Ambulance Corp since 2016, Melary Cruz is used to saving lives. Now she's in the fight for her own life. This April, at just 27-years-old, she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.
"It's been really hard, very stressful," said Cruz. "I wanna say a lot more stressful than maybe receiving those calls you know, you're always prepared to go on the job, but when it comes to you and yourself, it's very overwhelming."
Through months of intensive chemotherapy and a double mastectomy Melary hasn’t been able to work. But the close-knit Port Jervis Ambulance Corps family rallied around her in her time of need.
"It hit very close to home when we found out she was diagnosed with breast cancer knowing that she has a family and everything like that and how this was gonna affect her personally, it really kinda shook us all to the core," said Andrew Witkowski, the operations supervisor for the Port Jervis Ambulance Corps.
Every October for Breast Cancer Awareness month, the Ambulance Corps sells t-shirts and donates the proceeds to the American Cancer Society, but this year they decided to donate the money to one of their own, Melary Cruz.
"I was just so in shock," said Cruz. "That to me was just like 'you guys wanna do that for me that’s just so sweet and so thoughtful' of course this made me so much more emotional and I cried a lot."
This year the shirts say #CURE4CRUZ and all of the proceeds will go to Cruz in her fight to beat cancer, a fight she said has been made easier thanks to her EMT family.
"Through it all she's been the most inspirational person she's been so strong, stronger than I ever could’ve been," said her best friend and fellow EMT Ashanti Burton. "We are really one big happy family and to know that your second EMS family is just as supportive as your first one is a wonderful feeling."
"It's very heart touching it's very nice to know that you're not alone," said Cruz. "When you are going through this treatment it doesn’t matter sometimes how many people are there you constantly feel like you're just by yourself; having Port Jervis Ambulance have my back along with everybody else it's really an amazing feeling."
To purchase a t-shirt or sweatshirt to help support Melary in her fight you can click here.