Shelton cancer sufferer, family get gift of a lifetime
Nildaliz Ramos had long dreamt of cruising the high seas with her family. But that hope, in her mind, was dashed in early April when the Shelton resident learned she had breast cancer.
The diagnosis left Ramos requiring a double mastectomy and, with the cancer moving to her lymph nodes, chemotherapy and radiation is required. Months have passed, with Ramos was physically drained, and the family was feeling the financial pinch — not ideal conditions for quality family time.
But thanks to one Seymour resident’s nonprofit agency, Ramos’ dream has become a reality.
Treasured Time, started in 2013 by Suzanne Major and a group of dedicated volunteers, helps grant the wishes of parents with life-threatening illnesses who want to create a lasting memory with their children. For Nildaliz Ramos, that means a cruise to the Caribbean.
The family will be casting off on Carnival Cruise Lines on Aug. 19, just at the perfect time, said Ramos, as she will have begun chemotherapy treatments.
“I’m so excited,” said Ramos. “This is such a different experience for us. This is a great chance to get away from everything and spent quality time together as a family. This is so generous.”
Ramos said she had written to Treasured Time in hopes of earning a trip but never expected to be chosen. For Major, Ramos’ situation exemplified exactly why she started this 501(c)(3) operation six years ago.
“Her story just touched me,” said Major. “I read it, and I knew I had to help them. I am honored to help this family."
This trip also affords Ramos the chance to show with her husband, Matthew Cruz, and daughters, Lizamarie Morales and Nohely Jimenez, her birthplace of Puerto Rico, which is one of the stops on the cruise.
Treasured Time is a tax-exempt not-for-profit agency keeping memories alive for families battling cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, said Major.
The Treasured Time Facebook page states “Everyone needs a vacation once in a while. Job-related stress, deadlines, crucial decisions and managing the complexities of household demands pay a toll on a family’s health and wellness. We all dream of getting away from it all, if only for a short time.”
Major said that the average American family doesn’t think they spend enough time together.
“However, what about a family with children under the age of 18 who have a parent with a limited life expectancy due to a terminal illness? Between doctors’ appointments, chemotherapy, school and other commitments, it’s no surprise a family can be emotionally drained, disconnected and burnt out. The best way for these families to reconnect is to get away,” added Major.
Treasured Time’s services, said Major, provide these families a chance to relax and escape from responsibilities. “Vacations have a long-lasting impact and although Treasured Time provides the place, the best memories are who you’re with,” added Major.
Ramos is currently on a leave of absence from her company but is an administrative assistant when she is healthy enough to work. On top of her diagnosis, she was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia and recently dealt with a bout of major depressive disorder.
As a result of her circumstances her children have suffered, said Major, and she would like nothing more than to create a memory with her children that does not involve her illnesses.
“We do not have the chance for true family time,” said Ramos. “There is so much stress. All of us are suffering, not just me. This is truly a dream come true. We had been trying to go on a cruise for years. We cannot thank them enough for this wonderful gift.”
Major started Treasure Time after helping a friend who had been diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer. Since its creation, the organization has aided more than 30 families all throughout Connecticut, from Greenwich to the Rhode Island border and numerous places in between.
“The hardest thing is the finances,” said Major, who is also constantly seeking more volunteers, with so many more requests for assistance coming in each day. “So many need help, and for that we need more funding. Each trip averages $7,500 to $8,500."
If you would like to donate and support Ramos’ wish, visit www.treasuredtime.org and make a donation.
“We appreciate all of your help and support,” said Major.