Ask Debbie Peralta about life and she says live it, love it.
That’s not a revelation, even though Peralta was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer two years ago, when she was 28.
That’s how she’s always lived.
Peralta has always worked, always supported her two children and extended family, and always opened her home and pocketbook to other families, even through the pain.
This year, doctors said the cancer spread and is now Stage IV, and still she gives.
She found therapy at Kulailai near her home in Makaha, caring for it and beautifying the area with plants.
“She’s a giver and now she’s a receiver, and at first she told me no (to being a recipient of the Laulima Giving Program,” said Brenda Abaro, a parent facilitator at Makaha Elementary. “I remember her coming out of the hospital and I had a workshop that night. She was there, because of why? Because her kids were so important to her. Their education is so important.”
Nathan Whitaker is with the staffing firm Robert Half. He and his office team got to work.
“It hit the soft spot that we had to take care of this family,” he said. “We have ‘Casual Fridays’ every Friday and if you want to wear jeans, you have to donate five dollars to wear those jeans and so we raised a lot of money there.”
The company’s long list of clients gave as well, everything from toys and bicycles to computers and gift cards.
With Peralta sick, her father disabled and her sister his full-time caregiver, their multifamily home is reduced to one income and the family’s been sleeping on the floor.
But not anymore. The gifts include a brand-new bed from C.S. Wo.
For Peralta, she says she teaches her children to appreciate what you have: a roof over your head, food in your mouth, clothes on your back and people who love you.
But this time is different. This time, it takes the pain away.
“This here is a big relief. This is the best Christmas they ever had, like they were telling me, ‘Mommy, this is my best Christmas,'” Peralta said, wiping away tears. “Sorry, I don’t like doing this, but I appreciate it so much.”
A few weeks ago, doctors gave Peralta two weeks to six months to live.
When asked if there was anything else she would wish for, Peralta replied, “I got everything I need — my family.”