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Posted: 10:43 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27, 2014

Former Fox 7 anchor Loriana Hernandez battling leukemia 

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Loriana Hernandez
Loriana Hernandez

By Gary Dinges

Former KTBC anchor Loriana Hernandez had plenty of things on her to-do list as she geared up for a cross-country move.

Undergoing aggressive chemotherapy treatments to combat newly diagnosed leukemia wasn’t one of them.

Hernandez, who signed off from Fox 7 earlier this month after seven years with the station, was set to relocate to Washington, D.C., this week to be closer to her husband, Cesar Aldama. The two have a young son, Gabriel, who is 21 months old.

Blood tests during a trip to the doctor’s office last week, part of the in vitro fertilization process necessary to have a second child, yielded a shocking result.

“The doctor called me crying,” Hernandez said Monday. “I said, ‘What? You must be kidding.’ I was yelling and crying. It was unreal.”

Sadly, her doctor wasn’t kidding. She was very, very ill.

Hernandez wasted little time, booking a last-minute ticket and arriving at the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital late Monday. She expects to start six weeks of on-and-off chemotherapy Tuesday or Wednesday.

“They told me, ‘This can’t wait,’” she said.

The support from friends, former co-workers — and viewers who’ve never met the vibrant broadcast journalist — has been, from the start, overwhelming, Hernandez said. She says she is so incredibly grateful.

“I’m so touched,” she said. “My stomach hurts from crying so much, but I know I can beat this. I can kick its ass. I look at my precious son and I say, ‘Failure is not an option.’”

As she looks back, the signs that something was wrong were evident weeks ago. Hernandez says she remembers anchoring the morning news on Fox 7, dealing with random colds and soreness in some of her bones. Some days, she recalls punching herself in the arm — while on the air — because she was in so much pain.

After she signed off for the final time, Hernandez said her medical issues persisted. When movers arrived, she said she was nauseous, vomiting several times.

She has a short, but sweet, message for anyone reading this post.

“Everyone … go get a blood test — a complete blood count — every three months,” she said. “I wanted a baby, and I got cancer. Don’t let that happen to you.”

While Hernandez says she has insurance, not everything is covered. She says she’s been warned by others who have battled leukemia that a significant number of expenses will be out of pocket. That’s why friends have set up an online fundraising campaign.

The response, already, has overwhelmed the award-winning newscaster.

“I’m moved by the generosity and support and love I’ve received,” she said. “Austin has a very special place in my heart. It’s a town that rallies around people. I never thought I’d be the one everyone rallied around.”

While getting better for her son and her husband is Hernandez’s top priority right now, she says she hopes to one day return to broadcast news. Even facing weeks of intense medical treatments, there’s zero doubt in her mind that’s she’ll be back on air soon.

“I don’t have time for this,” she said. “As soon as I beat all this — and I will — I want to get back on TV and do what I love."

Gary Dinges

About Gary Dinges

Gary Dinges covers bars/restaurants, movies, music, radio and TV -- plus a bunch of other fun stuff -- for the Austin American-Statesman.

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