My name is Gladys Gutierrez and I have been HIV positive for over 25 years. I contracted the virus while giving birth to my son through a blood transfusion. When I found out my status, I cried non stop for an hour. I didn't know how I was going to tell my family. The news was hard on my mother because my youngest brother was already HIV positive, my sister committed suicide when she found out she was HIV positive, and my uncle had died of AIDS.
As hard as it was, I got myself together and started taking my meds - 23 pills in the morning and 18 at night. However, it got to a point some days that I wouldn't take them and when I did I would drink vodka along with them. One day, I woke up with only $1.00 and a beer. That day, I decided that I needed help.
On January 21, 2013, I will be 13 years sober. The past 13 years haven't been easy - I've had back surgery, three surgeries on my stomach, breast cancer, and a whole lot more. I just put it in God's hands and let him take care of it. I also have to thank my family and friends who stood by me every step of the way. And I give a special thanks to Bebashi for giving me all the support I needed.
I have been receiving services from Bebashi for 10 years. I started attending the women's support group, and then I was assigned a Medical Case Manager, JoAnn Williams, who has been so helpful - from assisting me in getting the apartment I've been living in for the past 10 years to finding funds to help pay for my hearing aids. Bebashi has so much to offer. They helped me when I fought breast cancer and are still helping me with follow-up care. I faithfully attend the women's support group - they are family to me. I am proud to have been asked to serve on the Advisory Board for Bebashi, and I am more than happy to give back as much as I can. They have done so much for me.
Just as Bebashi has helped me, they help countless others who are living with HIV or breast cancer, or who are hungry or homeless and are in dire need of Case Management to guide them to a better way of living, a better way of thinking. I ask that you give generously to Bebashi, so they can continue to do the great things they do. Bebashi is fighting to save lives.
Please consider making as generous a gift as you can. A gift of $25, $50, $75 or $100 can and has made a difference in many lives. It has made a difference in mine!
Gladys Gutierrez, HIV & Breast Cancer Survivor