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

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

Iran Brugueras, a longtime fixture on Hartford’s Park Avenue because the proprietor of the Hip Cease clothes and shoe retailer, is heading off on a street journey. Actually, Brugueras is on three completely 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 Stay As soon as”.

I’m on that YOLO journey because of a journey Brugueras started within the fall of 2021 when he was recognized with stage 4 gastric most cancers. The prognosis led Brugueras to retire, to take pleasure in life, household and all of the years that stay.

Brugueras can be on a mission to assist individuals discuss brazenly about their bodily and psychological well being. He “got here out” as a most cancers affected person to divulge heart’s contents to his neighborhood and provides mates and purchasers an opportunity to speak about their anxieties.

“I wish to be clear when speaking about most cancers. I wish to discuss 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 prognosis 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, individuals do not wish to discuss most cancers. They do not discuss emotions, particularly males,” she stated. “We would like individuals to say it is okay to be afraid. No matter your emotions are, let’s discuss them.”

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

“After that, quite a lot of individuals, largely males, approached him to speak about themselves or a member of the family scuffling with a continual sickness,” Nora stated. “He fed Him in a manner you would not consider. He reassured him that that is his manner ”.

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

Psychological well being

Iran and Nora aren’t any strangers to psychological well being initiatives. In 2020, the couple donated $25,000 to the Hartford Basis for Public Giving to start out a fund to make psychological well being sources accessible to inner-city youth.

The fund is named the SPLASH Undertaking, 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 automotive accident on the age of 20. SPLASH was the stage identify of Iran Brugueras.

Regardless of the stress of the pandemic and Iran’s prognosis, Iran and Nora have made some grants by way of the SPLASH venture. Recipients embrace the Toivo Heart in Hartford, which gives 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 grow to be his father’s motto. Iran Sr. used that motto, early on, to maintain his day job regardless of his medical therapy.

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

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

Iran Brugueras at his Hip Cease retailer on Park Ave. in Hartford on March 31, 2023. Iran was recognized with stage 4 gastric most cancers and made plans to journey the world tour together with his spouse Nora calling it the YOLO Tour. You may comply with the his journey by way 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 received her begin in 1994 by establishing a mix-tape stand exterior her mom’s Park Avenue retailer, Fiesta Time Florist and Celebration Store.

“Ever since he was a baby he preferred to promote issues. He went to New York and purchased tapes. In two days they have been all bought,” stated his mom, Maria Sanchez. “He went again and purchased extra tapes and CDs. He bought all of them. Then he began promoting garments”.

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

“I got here to work on wet days. I used to be out at 5 under 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 areas a couple 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 clients shopping for flowers and decorations for weddings, birthdays, quinceaeras and different holidays, he may see his son by way of the door, promoting his produce.

Within the store, the Iranian merchandise has prolonged to what Hip Cease sells in the present day: sportswear and footwear, 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, a variety of acid reflux disease, bloating. I awakened in the course of the night time with a abdomen ache. I might get a spasm in my decrease again on occasion,” she stated. “I went to the hospital a few occasions. They discovered nothing. They later thought it was H. pylori.

He pushed to have a colonoscopy and endoscopy. The assessments concluded with a prognosis of gastric most cancers. She was 48 years outdated.

“Signs are so frequent that most individuals with gastric most cancers wait to be checked, so that they’re often recognized 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 remedy you, however we are going to remedy 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 medical doctors 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 likelihood if I stored taking place that street. So I made a decision to proceed with out chemo and with immunotherapy,” she stated.

He centered on meditation, yoga, exercising every day and altering his eating regimen. “Now I am virtually vegan. I keep away from 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 demise of her cousin’s husband, who died out of the blue on the age of 63.

“On his property I noticed his lovely retirement house and all his lovely automobiles and boat. And she or he could not take pleasure in it. All that tough work and he isn’t in a position to take pleasure in it,” she stated.

“He postponed his retirement to save lots of extra money. That is what she hit onerous. He was centered on work so you can reside a cushty 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 celebration provides like bouncy homes and rents out an occasion showcase. In March, Iran celebrated its fiftieth birthday at Martir’s store. Greater than 100 individuals arrived. “Everyone 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 ultimately 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 Sneakers, 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 couple 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 are going to use its house as a boutique for essentially the most unique footwear, Jordans, as properly,” 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 outdated.

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

Her little store is jam-packed with quite a lot of decorations and provides. Sanchez enjoys her place in the neighborhood, promoting cake decorations, wreaths, candles and flowers, making customized 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 advised her.

Sanchez stated: “I do know I will probably 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 kinfolk, he’s dedicating himself to his household. Like Iran, Sanchez’s daughter additionally has severe 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 palms.”


When Iran and Nora return from their YOLO world tour, they may give attention to her well being, their household, her weblog, and making neighborhood connections to start out conversations.

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

This may be tough for individuals to grasp, Iran stated.

“Folks hear the phrase most cancers and instantly join it with demise. Folks might not know how you can behave or what to say round me. It would make them really feel uncomfortable speaking to me. They could really feel sorry for me,” she stated.

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

“Most cancers is definitely not a demise sentence. You need to do your job. You have to be dedicated to a more healthy life-style for positive. You may 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 wanting to proceed dwelling life to the fullest for so long as attainable.

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

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