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Warren resident changes outlook on life after winning cancer battle

Youngstown native changes outlook on life after winning cancer battle

WARREN — Over the span of four days in the spring of 2023, Bobby Arroyo went from a routine doctor’s appointment to a devastating diagnosis he didn’t see coming.

Arroyo, 37, of Warren, admits he was “shell shocked” to learn he had acute myeloid leukemia, and that he’d chalked up symptoms that began that winter to a vitamin deficiency.

“I was losing weight without trying and struggling to sleep,” he said. “I was urinating every 30-45 minutes and I was constantly tired.”

Little red dots he later learned were bursting capillaries began appearing on his body and he said he had cold symptoms that wouldn’t ease up.

At the time, Arroyo worked two jobs and said he put off a doctor’s visit until health insurance kicked in.

He made an appointment April 10 to see his family doctor, who ordered blood tests.

The next day, his doctor urged him to get to the hospital. “My platelets were extremely low,” he said.

More tests were ordered at St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital, where he was admitted after being told that doctors suspected leukemia. The next day, that diagnosis was confirmed at the Cleveland Clinic, where he’d been taken by ambulance.

By April 14, he began a chemotherapy regimen. After the first round of treatment, he went to stay with his parents, Robert and Lynette Arroyo, saying he was “just too weak to be able to do anything.”

The treatment caused hair loss and left him nauseous, but after a few weeks, a bone marrow biopsy came back negative.

Arroyo credits that outcome to his faith in God and the prayers and support he and his parents received.

“Every test that needed to be positive turned out positive and every test that needed to come out negative did,” he said.

Arroyo is in remission now and visits the Cleveland Clinic monthly. He said the first few years after diagnosis bring the highest risk of recurrence but he’s focusing on the positives and learning to listen to his body.

“My life came to a screeching halt,” he said. “Our lives are so busy and this forced me to slow down.”

Arroyo said he’s ready to let go of things that don’t matter and said his diagnosis changed his perspective and also taught him to be more forgiving.

“Time and energy are resources, not money,” he said. “It’s a new season in my life.”

Arroyo, who was born in Youngstown, has two sisters, Joylyn in Wisconsin and Liane in Florida, and three nephews.

In addition to spending more time with family, he said he plans to read more, travel, try new restaurants and stay connected to God.

His faith journey began at Spanish Evangelical Church in Youngstown when he was younger and continued at Rust City Church in the Eastwood Mall.

“Growing up, my parents put a big emphasis on outreach and helping people,” he said.

Prior to his diagnosis, Arroyo went on mission trips to Kentucky, Kenya and Los Angeles and he said he’d like to do more to help.

“I find the most satisfaction in helping others,” he said, adding that he hopes sharing his story will encourage people facing serious illness.

Arroyo’s mom attributes her son’s recovery to faith and prayer. She said people from churches in Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico were praying for her son and provided financial assistance so she and her husband could help during that time.

“We were so blessed,” she said.

She likened the news of his diagnosis to “someone hitting me with a 2-by-4” but said she told her son then that God had a plan for them all.

Before her son’s illness, Lynette Arroyo said she prayed a lot for what was to be.

“I had been praying for what was coming and I didn’t even know why I was praying that way,” she said. “We just placed our hope in God.”

Arroyo works in order fulfillment at Target in Niles and said he’d like to become a team leader there and eventually, volunteer or work for a nonprofit organization.

Climbing the ladder isn’t important to him, he said, explaining he’s more focused on relationships and experiences.

“Cancer does that to you,” he said. “Money is less of a priority.”

Faith has played a huge role in Arroyo’s life and he said he was confident God would heal his body and work through his doctors to find the right treatment.

“I just had faith that God was going to pull me through,” he added.

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