Thousands of people have seen and shared her story on Facebook, while hundreds more have offered prayers and support for Rose Marie Soto.
Soto, a local businesswoman, has been diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer. While the disease is incurable, it is treatable, but complications are preventing her from beginning her treatments and the medical bills keep piling up.
The community has come together and has plans to host a benefit May 31 at the Clinton Farmer’s Market from 11 a.m – 2 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. Robert Stroud will be live during the dinner hours playing everyone’s favorite tunes.
“I have been simply overwhelmed with the support and the ‘yes I will help’ from each and everyone I have called,” Terry Cottle, event organizer, said. “It takes a village to make an event like this possible.”
Soto has been a part of the community, working behind a chair as a hairdresser for 45 years. Day in and day out, Soto has always had a smile on her face, and she has touched many lives along the way. Not only is she a wife, mother and grandmother, but many throughout the community call her friend. She began working at Bill’s Beauty Shop and alongside her husband, Raymond, has continued working there for more than four decades.
Surgery isn’t an option for Soto’s treatment and doctors have said she will need chemotherapy as treatment for her case. Before that treatment can start, an MRI is needed to see when and where to start the treatment.
Complications continue to arise for Soto.
On March 21, Soto visited the emergency room at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill complaining of severe pain and difficulty using the restroom. Her tumor had perforated her large intestine. Once that tear was repaired, another occurred. There was some leakage with the tears that caused concern for infection. Along with these issues, a blood clot affecting circulation to her right leg was discovered.
Soto continues being closely monitored at UNC Hospitals. Kidney function has become an issue, and she has been placed on dialysis. As the medical problems continue to arise, and Soto continues waiting to begin treatment for her cancer, the bills continue piling up.
The family has continued to update the community on Soto’s condition, which remains critical.
In addition to the benefit, family and friends have organized a GoFundMe page that raised nearly $9,000 in one month with more than 120 donations.
“When word spread that Rose was in need of a helping hand with medical bills, good Samaritans throughout Sampson County came together to help a neighbor in need,” Becky Spell Vann, committee member, said.
All funds received through donations and the benefit will help Soto’s family pay for medical expenses and any other costs they may run into associated with the illness.
“We would like to give a big thank you to everyone that’s making this possible,” Soto’s daughter Natalie noted on her Facebook page. “As busy as everyone is, your time is appreciated beyond measure.”
The following excerpt was taken from the GoFundMe page.
”We ask that you continue to pray for healing and hope and comfort for Rose and her loved ones. We also ask that you consider donating what you are able and sharing this so that others may have the opportunity to do the same. The costs of her medical needs are growing constantly, and that is a great burden that all of us together can help ease. Every amount helps and the goal listed is just a start. Should you wish to donate after the initial goal is reached, please feel free to do so. None of us would wish this on our worst enemy, so let’s give what we can to help our sweet friend.”
Tickets for the benefit can be purchased at Bill’s Beauty Shop, Clinton Drug Company and many other businesses downtown.
For anyone wanting to assist with the benefit, cakes are needed and can be donated the Wednesday before at the Clinton Catholic Church from 5-7 p.m. Cakes should be sliced and individually wrapped.