Local gym rallies around young trainer diagnosed with rare cancer

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – A local personal trainer is starting treatment in California for a rare form of Leukemia, and an Albuquerque gym is stepping in to help raise money for this expensive journey.

Up until this point, the road to recovery looked uncertain.

“I just need to get in the ring. I already got the fight and it’s over,” said Alex Jaramillo.

Rewind to just a few weeks ago and Alex Jaramillo was just your typical 22-year-old, going to work, hanging out with friends, and working out. That was until things started feeling “off.”

“I just thought it was something normal because of how active I was. So I didn’t think anything of it,” said Jaramillo.

Growing up playing baseball, football, and eventually getting into weightlifting, Jaramillo was used to being sore, but then he began noticing bruising on his face. Jaramillo finally gave in and scheduled a doctor’s visit.

On Dec. 11, doctors diagnosed Jaramillo with a very rare cancer: Blastic Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Neoplasm, or BPDCN.

“It’s just so rare. I didn’t even know about it and found out and started looking more into it,” said Jaramillo.

In fact, there are less than 600 cases of it nationwide. It also has a history of only affecting those 60 years and older.

The news put the family in an urgent situation.

“The financial burden will be hard on him for a 22-year-old young man. At this time he is unable to work,” said Jaramillo’s brother, Nicholas Salazar.

Knowing that Jaramillo was in a dire situation, Steven Newman, owner of Elite Physique gym in Rio Rancho, along with a handful of his members, stepped in to help the young man, who had been working as a trainer at the gym for nearly a year.

“We are very family oriented so essentially it’s like hearing about a family member who’s ill. Hearing the stages of where it was at, it was a surprise I think for all of us,” said Newman.

“He really just needs positive words, positive thoughts and the monetary donations as well,” said Marla Carrillo, member of Elite Physique.

So, they created a GoFundMe page. It has already received over $20,000, all of which will go towards his treatment at City of Hope.

He is hoping to undergo the clinical trial treatment known as “SL-401.” The cost is yet to be determined, but right now, Jaramillo is just grateful to get any support he can…

“I just keep focused on getting back up and staying positive and fighting through this, and not overthinking things and just realizing that it’s just an illness and my body will definitely overcome this and get through it,” said Jaramillo.

Jaramillo and his family already have plans to create a nonprofit called “Alex’s Fight.” They hope to help others in the same situation find resources needed to begin treatment, something they say was the hardest part.

Jaramillo shared the news on his Facebook page that he will be starting his treatment at City of Hope cancer treatment center on Friday.

To donate, click here.To follow his journey, click here. 

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