Co-worker Pays it Forward to Valley mom battling life-threatening illness

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Zuzeth Blanco was overcome by emotion when a CBS 5 news crew showed up at her door and said she was this week's Pay it Forward recipient.  The Mesa mom has been through a lot this year. (Source: 3TV/CBS) Zuzeth Blanco was overcome by emotion when a CBS 5 news crew showed up at her door and said she was this week's Pay it Forward recipient. The Mesa mom has been through a lot this year. (Source: 3TV/CBS)
Blanco was recently diagnosed with a rare illness, a herniation on her brain that has made it hard to walk and take care of her two daughters. (Source: 3TV/CBS) Blanco was recently diagnosed with a rare illness, a herniation on her brain that has made it hard to walk and take care of her two daughters. (Source: 3TV/CBS)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Zuzeth Blanco was overcome by emotion when a CBS 5 news crew showed up at her door and said she was this week's Pay it Forward recipient.

The Mesa mom has been through a lot this year.

Blanco was recently diagnosed with a rare illness, a herniation on her brain that has made it hard to walk and take care of her two daughters.

"If I'm laying down, my spine starts hurting so I don't have a way to get adjusted, and its getting worse and worse," said Blanco.

It's gotten so bad that Blanco is no longer able to work, spending most of her time at doctor's offices and going to physical therapy.

But this determined Valley woman refuses to give up, knowing she's got to be strong for her girls.

"Every time I sit down on the couch and say no I can't get up anymore because its so painful, I see their picture and I'm like, yes you can," said Blanco.

Carrie Mathews has seen how determined her friend is, taking care of her daughters while fighting a terrible illness, so she reached out to CBS 5 to Pay it Forward to a woman who inspires so many.

"I just wanted to give back to her, to have her know that we care about her and we love her, and not to ever give up," said Mathews.

Mathews surprised Blanco at home last week.

"I just wanted to show you how much we care about you and I care about you, and everybody at work cares about you and your family," Mathews told Blanco. "And I wanted to reach out to Channel 5 Pay it Forward to present you $500 for you and your family because we love you, and care about you ."

"I love you sweetheart," said Mathews. "You're going to make it through this."

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Jason Barry
Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

Click to learn more about Jason.

Jason Barry

Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

He is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports, which highlight local restaurants with major health code violations.

Jason was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Miami.

An avid sports fan, Jason follows the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns with his wife, Karen, and son, Joshua.

His favorite stories to cover are the station’s Pay it Forward segments, which reward members of the community with $500 for going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty to help others.

Jason, started his career at WBTW-TV in Florence, SC before moving to WALA-TV in Mobile, AL, was named the Associated Press Reporter of the Year in 2002.

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