A CT man says it was difficult to "come out" about his cancer.  That's why he now he wants to tell everyone

A CT man says it was troublesome to “come out” about his most cancers. That is why he now he desires to inform everybody

Iran Brugueras, a longtime fixture on Hartford’s Park Road because the proprietor of the Hip Cease clothes and shoe retailer, is heading off on a highway journey. In truth, Brugueras is on three totally different journeys.

Proper now, Brugueras and his spouse, Nora, are on a 40-day trip, with stops in Australia, Bali, Thailand, the Maldives, Egypt, and someplace in Europe they have not selected but. Iran and Nora referred to as their trip “You Solely Reside As soon as”.

I’m on that YOLO journey on account of a journey Brugueras started within the fall of 2021 when he was identified with stage 4 gastric most cancers. The analysis led Brugueras to retire, to get pleasure from life, household and all of the years that stay.

Brugueras can be on a mission to assist folks speak overtly about their bodily and psychological well being. He “got here out” as a most cancers affected person to confide in his neighborhood and provides mates and purchasers an opportunity to speak about their anxieties.

“I need to be clear when speaking about most cancers. I need to speak in regards to the stigma of it. The stigma is why it took me a 12 months and a half to come back out publicly,” she stated.

“I do not need this analysis to have been in useless,” she stated. “If somebody is in a darkish place, I would like them to have the ability to discuss it.”

Nora, a longtime most cancers counselor, desires to assist Iran overcome these cultural stigmas.

“In our tradition, Latino tradition, folks do not need to discuss most cancers. They do not discuss emotions, particularly males,” she stated. “We would like folks to say it is okay to be afraid. No matter your emotions are, let’s discuss them.”

At first, her scope was primary, speaking to anybody who walked into her store or met on the road, about their analysis, remedy, and psychological state. Then she “got here out” on social media.

“After that, quite a few folks, principally males, approached him to speak about themselves or a member of the family battling a persistent sickness,” Nora stated. “He fed Him in a approach you would not imagine. He reassured him that that is his approach ”.

Now she has arrange a web site, hipstopcancer.com, the place she plans to weblog about her well being and wellness updates.

Psychological well being

Iran and Nora are not any strangers to psychological well being initiatives. In 2020, the couple donated $25,000 to the Hartford Basis for Public Giving to begin a fund to make psychological well being assets accessible to inner-city youth.

The fund is known as the SPLASH Mission, which stands for Particular Folks Wanting & Aming for Success & Well being.

It was created in honor of Iran’s son and Nora’s stepson, Iran Brugueras Jr. The up-and-coming hip-hop from Waterbury struggled with psychological well being points, which he referenced in his music, earlier than passing away in 2016 in a automobile accident on the age of 20. SPLASH was the stage title of Iran Brugueras.

Regardless of the stress of the pandemic and Iran’s analysis, Iran and Nora have made some grants by means of the SPLASH venture. Recipients embody the Toivo Heart in Hartford, which provides different psychological well being therapies, and NAMIWalks, sponsored by the Nationwide Alliance on Psychological Sickness.

Iran Brugueras Jr.’s motto was “no excuses.” It has additionally develop into his father’s motto. Iran Sr. used that motto, early on, to maintain his day job regardless of his medical remedy.

“I have never modified my life-style. I nonetheless got here to work daily, similar schedule, similar hours. I am a grind. I believed to myself, I’ve no excuses,” Iran stated.

Now that motto motivated him to let go of Hip Cease, he offered it to his Park Road neighbor, Roberto Luis Martir, and targeted on therapeutic and wellness.

Iran Brugueras at his Hip Cease retailer on Park Ave. in Hartford on March 31, 2023. Iran was identified with stage 4 gastric most cancers and made plans to journey the world tour along with his spouse Nora calling it the YOLO Tour. You possibly can observe the his journey by means of his web site www.hipstopcancer.com (Aaron Flaum/Hartford Courant)

Household retailers

Iran’s well-being and happiness was associated to Hip Cease. She bought her begin in 1994 by establishing a mix-tape stand outdoors her mom’s Park Road retailer, Fiesta Time Florist and Get together Store.

“Ever since he was a child he appreciated to promote stuff. He went to New York and acquired tapes. In two days they have been all offered,” stated his mom, Maria Sanchez. “He went again and acquired extra tapes and CDs. He offered all of them. Then he began promoting garments”.

Iran has been engaged on that spot for 15 years. “It regarded like a scorching canine cart, with an umbrella, with audio system enjoying hip-hop,” she stated. He has develop into well-known within the neighborhood, the place mates and prospects name him the Pooch.

“I got here to work on wet days. I used to be out at 5 beneath within the winter, all set,” she stated. “That impressed me to work indoors.”

In 2010, it took a vacant seat subsequent to Fiesta Time. Years later, each shops moved to their present places a number of hundred yards down the road at 693 and 697 Park St.

Brugueras made a gap within the wall, to construct a door connecting the retailers. As Sanchez chatted with prospects shopping for flowers and decorations for weddings, birthdays, quinceaeras and different holidays, he may see his son by means of the door, promoting his produce.

Within the store, the Iranian merchandise has prolonged to what Hip Cease sells at this time: sportswear and sneakers, jerseys, sports activities hats, backpacks, watches, sun shades, necklaces.

Feeling unwell

Then, in mid-2021, a couple of 12 months after the launch of the SPLASH venture, with its enterprise operating easily, Iran began to really feel sick.

“There was discomfort, loads of acid reflux disease, bloating. I awoke in the midst of the night time with a abdomen ache. I might get a spasm in my decrease again every so often,” she stated. “I went to the hospital a few instances. They discovered nothing. They later thought it was H. pylori.

He pushed to have a colonoscopy and endoscopy. The exams concluded with a analysis of gastric most cancers. She was 48 years previous.

“Signs are so widespread that most individuals with gastric most cancers wait to be checked, in order that they’re normally identified at a later stage,” she stated.

At first she was afraid to ask a couple of “timeline,” Nora stated.

“The physician initially stated, ‘we won’t treatment you, however we are going to treatment you. We’re simply going to need to handle and stability the standard of your life,” he stated.

“Based mostly on the dialog, I did my analysis. We thought, 5 years tops. Then he had the braveness to ask and the docs confirmed it”.

Iran had 23 chemotherapy periods. “I noticed the course my physique was heading, how frail I used to be changing into. My immune system was weakening. I felt like I had no probability if I saved taking place that highway. So I made a decision to proceed with out chemo and with immunotherapy,” she stated.

He targeted on meditation, yoga, exercising every day and altering his weight loss program. “Now I am virtually vegan. I steer clear of sugar and alkaline. No pasta. Nothing that is available in a field. Nothing too acidic,” he stated.

He felt stronger and nonetheless labored. Then Iran had an epiphany as she mourned the dying of her cousin’s husband, who died all of a sudden on the age of 63.

“On his property I noticed his stunning retirement residence and all his stunning automobiles and boat. And he or she could not get pleasure from it. All that onerous work and he isn’t in a position to get pleasure from it,” she stated.

“He postponed his retirement to avoid wasting more cash. That is what she hit onerous. He was targeted on work so you can stay a snug life, however you by no means know when your time is up,” he stated. “That is how I used to be in a position to fully let go of the attachment I needed to my enterprise.”

New period on the Hip Cease

Martir now owns Hip Cease, amongst his different companies. Martir owns Celebrations At Wolfies, which rents out occasion provides like bouncy homes and rents out an occasion showcase. In March, Iran celebrated its fiftieth birthday at Martir’s store. Greater than 100 folks arrived. “All people loves Pooch,” stated Martir.

Brugueras approached Martir asking him to take over Hip Cease. At first he hesitated. “He put his sweat and dedication into it and constructed this store from the bottom up,” stated Martir. Brugueras finally satisfied Martir to purchase the enterprise.

Martir is now excited to make his mark on Hip Cease. A North Finish native, Martir has shopped all his life at Salvin Footwear, which he opened in 1927 and has been in enterprise for 93 years, closing in December 2020.

“The vibe right here is like Salvin,” he stated. She even employed longtime Salvin worker, Bobby Alves, to be the “face” of the shop.

In a number of months, Martir will increase Hip Cease when Sanchez, who’s 74, retires and shuts down Fiesta Time. That door within the wall connecting the retailers will come in useful.

“We’ll use its house as a boutique for probably the most unique sneakers, Jordans, as nicely,” stated Martir.

Time to retire

Sanchez, initially from Puerto Rico, got here to Hartford for a two-week trip to go to household when she was 21 years previous.

“It was time for me to depart. They stated, “Please do not depart, keep a number of extra weeks.” So I stayed. I stayed for 53 years,” she stated.

Her little store is jam-packed with a wide range of decorations and provides. Sanchez enjoys her place locally, promoting cake decorations, wreaths, candles and flowers, making personalised wedding ceremony favors with shiny satin ribbons, colourful mesh and cute surprises inside. However she desires to retire.

“My son will not depart me. Let’s depart collectively, ”he informed her.

Sanchez stated: “I do know I shall be concerned in one thing else after I retire.” However earlier than him, as he did 53 years in the past when he determined to remain in Hartford near his family, he’s dedicating himself to his household. Like Iran, Sanchez’s daughter additionally has critical well being issues.

“He wants me proper now,” Sanchez stated. “I’ve to be sturdy for them, however I do know it is in God’s fingers.”


When Iran and Nora return from their YOLO world tour, they are going to concentrate on her well being, their household, her weblog, and making neighborhood connections to begin conversations.

“It is develop into a part of my life’s story, speaking about dealing with most cancers,” she stated. “I would like folks to know that most cancers does not outline you. It isn’t the top of you and there may be hope. You possibly can heal.

This may be troublesome for folks to grasp, Iran stated.

“Folks hear the phrase most cancers and instantly join it with dying. Folks might not know the best way to behave or what to say round me. It’d make them really feel uncomfortable speaking to me. They could really feel sorry for me,” she stated.

Iran’s newest CAT scan was carried out in February. The most cancers hasn’t unfold. Discover power on this. Now, with Nora by his facet, he desires folks to see him proceed his well being journey.

“Most cancers is actually not a dying sentence. It’s important to do your job. You should be dedicated to a more healthy life-style for positive. You possibly can have hope,” she stated. “He has to have the ability to discover that silver lining, it doesn’t matter what prognosis he is been given. He is desperate to proceed residing life to the fullest for so long as doable.

Susan Dunne will be reached at sdunne@courant.com.

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