Altoona woman fighting pancreatic cancer passes away

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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Elia Leticia Borrero, the 22-year-old from Altoona who was fighting pancreatic cancer passed away at her home on Thursday, under the care of Interim Healthcare Hospice.

We brought you her story last November, as she was raising awareness for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

Funeral services will take place at 11 am on Tuesday, September 10, at Fuller Speckien Hulke Funeral Home.

Visitation will take place on Monday, September 9, at the funeral home from 5-8 pm and again on Tuesday morning an hour prior to the service.

Burial will take place immediately following the service in Rest Haven Cemetery in the Town of Washington.

In lieu of flowers, memorials to the family are preferred. A memorial fund will be established.

Friends and family may offer condolences online at


ALTOONA, Wisc. (WEAU) - An Altoona woman said she hopes to inspire others to learn more and support further research during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

About 40,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease every year, with a five-year survival rate of just six percent, according to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

That's not stopping Elia Borrero, 21, who is battling the disease, in her second bout with cancer.

Borrero said she knew after months of pain while attending college in California, that something was wrong and needed to be looked at.

"I turned completely gold, my legs were completely bruised, I was itching like crazy and at one point, I just couldn't take it anymore, so I went to the ER," Borrero said.

Suffering from jaundice, doctors there eventually found a tumor and diagnosed her with pancreatic cancer, a rarity for someone at age 21, with a bleak outlook.

"I was actually scared when I saw the statistics, that when you're diagnosed, there's only a six percent chance of living past five years. But I have amazing support from my family and friends, and I knew that I’ll beat it and I’m not going to be part of that statistic."

"No one really knows why people get pancreas cancer," Marshfield Clinic Dr. David Schiefling said. "It causes failure of the digestive system or the liver."

After suffering from gastroparesis, a paralysis of the stomach, at a young age, Borrero said she was ready to keep fighting.

"One more battle to defeat," she said.

She's taken time off from school and has had six chemotherapy sessions in hopes that the tumor shrinks enough to be removed, but the University of Californa - Riverside senior women's studies major remains focused on helping others, spreading awareness of the disease and her goal of becoming a college professor.

"There’s no way I’m going to let this stop me now. I will become a professor. I have my goals and I’m going to do it, and I know that I have a purpose and I know I’m going to defeat it, so I just thought there's no reason to be scared. God has a plan for me. He's given me 3 chances at life so far, so here's another one coming my way."

Another goal she has is to attend a Packers game, but would need to be in a press box, due to a sensitivity to cold weather. WEAU contacted the Packers but has not heard back about how or if the team could organize that.

Borrero said she hopes others can learn from what she's going through, to go the hospital early on, when feeling unusual pain.

For more information on how to help support research, and those suffering the disease, visit Borrero has also made a Facebook page for Gastroparesis:

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