When Sal Aguirre learned he had leukemia in May, he cried and whined and felt sorry for himself -- that is, until he met his hard-nosed nurse, who said if he fought it, she would too.
“She picked me up, dusted me off and slapped me around a little bit," Aguirre said, explaining how he managed to stay strong. "I love her to death."
Now in remission after two rounds of chemo, Aguirre is at home, feeling well, and is the beneficiary of a fundraiser planned in conjunction with the city of Wildomar and the
The Menifee resident who serves on the Wildomar Police Department said his family, friends and co-workers have been striving to raise money to help pay the mounting bills.
One co-worker decorated pens and sold them at the courthouse; they sold out. Another friend made T-shirts. Still another acquaintance held a Zumba dance fundraiser for him.
Aguirre, father to three children -- Kiera, 15, Cheyenne, 12, and Jacob, 9 -- was driving to work May 9 when, while on the phone with his wife, Kristi, he mentioned his gums were bleeding a bit and his stomach was upset.
He thought it was just a flu bug.
Kristi Googled the symptoms and called him back: "Get to the doctor."
Two days later, he was taking his first round of chemotherapy.
“It was very quick, it was very fast,” the deputy recalled Thursday.
Now, he said, the amount of cancer in his blood is very low.
"That puts me in the zone for remission," he said.
The next step in the deputy's fight for life is to get a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, he explained.
In the meantime, the community is pulling for him. Aguirre will be honored by the Lake Elsinore Storm when they take on the Lancaster Jethawks July 26 at The Diamond. Tickets for the game are $9 for anyone who uses the promotional code, WILDOMAR, organizers said. Out of that $9, the Storm will donate $3 toward Aguirre's fight to beat the disease. Game time is 7:05 p.m.
Raj Narayanan, Storm Baseball's director of group sales, said the team is "proud to be able to support his cause."
The special night at The Diamond coincides with the fourth annual Wildomar Community Night. Wildomar City Councilwoman Bridgette Moore said she and fellow council members followed their mayor's lead in honoring Aguirre.
"Police officers do so much for our community and this is nice for us to give back to him," Moore said.
The deputy said he feels grateful for his second chance and also for all the support and compassion his family, friends -- and even strangers -- have shown him.
“It’s always overwhelming when you see everybody coming out."
To keep track of developments in Aguirre's fight against leukemia, click here. For more information on Wildomar Community Night and tickets to the July 26 Storm game, contact Wildomar Community Services Director Paula Willette at 951-677-7751 or the Storm's Raj Narayanan at 951-245-4487 x308.