CARLSBAD — Over the past 15 years, Sylvia Ramirez has become like family to much of the Carlsbad Police Department.
The 52-year-old Carlsbad woman has grown close with a number of officers, especially George Zavala, a detective. She has worked the graveyard shift as a clerk at 7-Eleven in Carlsbad Village on Oak Avenue, where her bond with many of CPD’s finest began and continues.
“I see George as a brother,” Ramirez said. “He knows everything about my personal life. I tell him everything.”
So when Ramirez revealed she was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in April, the men and women in blue knew they needed to step up for their longtime friend.
The Carlsbad Police Officers Association has held two fundraisers and set up a GoFundMe page, which has raised more than $2,400 to date. The next fundraiser, which is independent of the CPD’s efforts, is on Nov. 19 at Senior Grubby’s, 377 Carlsbad Village Drive.
“I felt back in my back about a year ago,” Ramirez recalled. “I got a mammogram in January and they said it was scar tissue. When I went back … the doctor said we need to do a biopsy right away. When he told me, I knew it was probably cancer.”
Ramirez, though, is in high spirits after undergoing a double mastectomy at the end of October. She said she is cancer free, although must still undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatments the next several months to make sure the cancer doesn’t return.
Throughout her battle, Ramirez has remained the same upbeat and colorful woman. After her diagnosis, she thought she would have to fight off depression, but it never came. It’s the same story after her surgery.
During her initial treatments, Ramirez steadfastly refused to take time off, but noted her manager and the owner offered several times she could take as much time as she needed. She declined and instead opted to keep her routine.
“Sylvia’s a very, very outgoing person,” Zavala said. “Great sense of humor. Sylvia’s always someone you can go in, have a coffee and a laugh with.”
After the surgery, though, she is taking some much needed and deserved time off. Ramirez said the next big decision is whether to undergo reconstructive breast surgery, although she said she is leaning toward bypassing the surgery.
She is happy and Ramirez isn’t ashamed of what she has endured. In fact, just days after the surgery, she was bouncing around her home and telling stories with as much zeal as she did prior to her procedure.
“She’s a hardworking person,” Zavala added. “Just like anything else, it’s too bad and it sucks. I think all of us worried about her financially. I’m ecstatic to hear that (she’s cancer free). I’m so glad.”
She always had a feeling she would be diagnosed with breast cancer. It runs in her family, as Ramirez’s aunt and one cousin were also diagnosed.
Not only does she have the support of the CPD, but also of her two kids, Crystal and Bryan, and countless other friends and family. Ramirez said her co-worker, manager and others in town have also been highly supportive.
The Carlsbad Police Officers Association is selling breast cancer awareness pins at the 7-Eleven with all proceeds benefiting Ramirez. They can also be purchased by calling (760) 683-8765. The Ramirez GoFundMe account can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/sylvias-relief-fund.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.