Las Vegas Machete Attack Victim Now Battling Cancer

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Ferreira says that both she and Gomez, who is also a diabetic, believe that the cancer may have been accelerated by the trauma and surgeries from her injuries.

"Maria's body has been under a lot of stress, and on a lot of medications, one surgery after another," Ferreira said. "I think maybe that the immune system was there, and it triggered [the cancer]. The doctors haven't said that; they don't know if this comes from weakened immune system."

Research varies on whether or not stress can lead to cancer. Some studies have shown that stress can hinder the immune system's anti-tumor defense, and a 2010 study showed that stress hormones like adrenaline can support tumor growth.

Whether or not the trauma from her brutal attack and her cancer diagnosis are related, the toll on Gomez has been severe.

"She was so strong, she would smile, and say [the attack] was nothing. I'd say, 'this is not nothing, this is something," Ferreira said. "Now she can't take the reality. Now she thinks, 'What am I going to do?'" she said. "Doctors were very optimistic. The doctors said that by December she'd be using her own hands.

"After the cancer, she's another person. She's very sad, very weak, she looks pale, and fragile, and helpless," Ferreira said.

Doctors are saying that Gomez will be able to beat the cancer, but she will have to undergo extensive chemotherapy. In the meantime, she cannot work, so she is relying on the donations to support herself.

Ferreira, who is also a domestic violence survivor, and launched Safe Faith United with her own funds, said she is doing all she can to help Gomez. She says that she has held raffles and invited some politicians to help, and soon plans to raise funds on a larger scale.

Ferreira said she also wants to ensure that Vergara-Martinez -- who, according to the Las Vegas Sun, could face a prison term of four to 40 years -- pays for his crime.

"Since October is National Domestic Violence Month, we're going to head down to the courthouse with banners," she said. "The prosecutor just wants a conviction. If he pleads guilty, he can get out. We don't want him to get away with this."

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