Hugs, tears and laughter filled the air at Ferg’s Saturday. It was a bittersweet event celebrating the 24th wedding anniversary of Terri and Pablo Altuna.
It was 2006 when Terri Altuna, 56, was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer.
After chemotherapy and radiation, the doctors suggested she have a double mastectomy. The surgery went without complication and Altuna's cancer was in remission.
In 2008, however, she was back in the hospital. The cancer had relocated to her brain. After a multitude of treatments and three brain surgeries, Altuna was still fighting and surviving.
“It was a miracle that she recovered from all of that,” said Karen Rodwell, Altuna’s sister. Rodwell calls Altuna her best friend and has been with her every step of the journey. Rodwell said that on more than one occasion, doctors emphasized their disbelief in what Altuna had endured and survived.
Then in January of this year, Altuna yet again received the bad news. The cancer returned to her brain and this time doctors said there was no getting better.
“They just thought that they had done all they could do and they could no longer treat her,” said Rodwell.
In the past, the tumors would come one at a time. In January, it seemed as if they were all coming back at once. It would be the final push into the doctor’s terminal diagnosis.
To help offset the medical bills, Altuna’s husband and . On Saturday, live music, food and a raffle were highlighted for family and friends of Terri Altuna.
Altuna and her husband, Pablo recently celebrated their 24th wedding anniversary. Pablo wanted to make sure they had a proper party, in case they are unable to do so on their 25th.
“She loves everyone being together,” said Erin Hagan, Altuna’s daughter. “She’s so happy.”
More than 150 people came out to show their support for the Altunas on Saturday. Some folks even flew from around the country to visit Altuna.
“I’m overwhelmed,” said Hagan. “It makes you really appreciate life.”
By the end of the day, the family was already talking about making a scrapbook of the event. Altuna was surrounded by her closest friends and family to celebrate life and love.
Altuna is the middle child of five and has three children of her own as well as three grandchildren.
“She’s an amazing person,” said Rodwell. “She’s an inspiration that we’ll have forever.”