Ellen Gifts 25K To Army Veteran Who Fought Breast Cancer And Is Struggling With Self-Acceptance
Jaime Castillo-Raby is an Army veteran who was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer last summer. She is now cancer-free, but the cancer treatments left Jaime with a body and attitude she no longer recognized.
“Before breast cancer, I would run six miles a day,” she said. “I was just so full of energy.”
She no longer feels energetic at all.
A few different Hollywood stars worked together to show Castillo-Raby how beautiful and special she is, and to give her a little help.
First, Castillo-Raby appeared on Fearless, a digital series hosted by Ashley Graham that appears on Ellen’s online video platform, EllenTube. On her show, Graham — who is a plus-sized model and body activist in addition to being an entrepreneur and designer — encourages her guests to take the next step in their lives that will allow them to find confidence again.
Castillo-Raby told Graham about the changes she went through after she felt the golfball-sized lump in her breast one day. She initially rose to the challenge of fighting against her cancer, and stayed positive in the face of all of the fear and uncertainty.
She had a double mastectomy and then chemo.
But the chemo wreaked havoc on her and chipped away at her positivity and energy. She lost her hair and gained 50 pounds.
“It wasn’t just physical, it was mental. I mentally didn’t have the energy to get up. So I couldn’t work out,” she told Graham. “And I didn’t want to eat. Then, it was all I wanted to do was eat.”
Castillo-Raby has a loving husband and two beautiful children. Her youngest son was only four years old when she was diagnosed, and she prayed that she’d stay alive long enough for him to remember her.
“The chemo made me physically exhausted. I want to be the mom that can go and take my kids for walks and not be tired after five minutes. I don’t feel like I’m myself anymore.”
Now she sees a stranger when she looks in the mirror.
During Fearless, Castillo-Raby got pep talks from breast cancer survivors Robin Roberts, Hoda Kotb, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She broke down in tears while she listened to their encouraging words.
Then, Graham walked her through some affirmations she can say while looking at herself in the mirror. Graham also set up Castillo-Raby with a personal trainer and a local nutritionist, and gave her $5,000 to buy clothes.
In this first video, watch Castillo-Raby open up about her struggles after breast cancer and her desire to love her body again.
After being on Fearless, Castillo-Raby and Graham also appeared on Ellen. Ellen talked to Castillo-Raby about loving herself, and then surprised her with a $25,000 check from sponsor Total Wireless.
Being on Ellen was a great experience for Castillo-Raby.
“Everyone was patient and had nothing but positive things to say; they treated me like a star,” Castillo-Raby said. “They really have invested in my journey to find normalcy and get back to myself.”
As for her journey toward self-acceptance, Castillo-Raby is still working on that, but making progress.
“I’m still not far from that place when I didn’t think there was a light at the end of the tunnel; my feelings are still pretty raw,” she said. “But I have always been kind of a tough chick and all of this has made me even stronger.”
Watch Ellen surprise Castillo-Raby with $25,000 in this video.