NYPD officers come together to help a sister in blue

Sergeant Agy Peña in the hospital at left, and in uniform at right.
Sergeant Agy Peña in the hospital at left, and in uniform at right.

On October 22nd, NYPD Sergeant Agy Peña went to the doctor with headaches and fainting spells.

She went alone because she didn’t think it was a big deal, she said.

But she was sent for an MRI, and when she returned to the doctor’s office, she was given some terrifying news: she had a massive brain tumor known as anaplastic astrocytoma.

Two days later, she had an operation that removed 95 percent of the mass. But doctors said trying to take out the remaining five percent would cause permanent brain damage.

The surgery left her unable to speak, and with limited motor skills on her right side. Since then, she’s been in speech therapy, physical therapy, and undergoing chemo and radiation to remove the remaining mass.

She finally learned to speak again last month.

“I could think of it all in my head, but I couldn’t speak it,” she said, describing the process of learning to speak again. “My brain was kind of going like a hundred miles an hour.”

The treatments have added up, leaving her with $22,000 in medical bills her insurance won’t cover.

Her best friend, Sergeant Alexandra Sarubbi, and five other colleagues have organized a fundraiser near the end of the month, inviting other members of the force to come out and support their “sister in blue” with donations to help cover Peña’s medical costs.

Peña said her friends have told her support has been pouring in.

A nine-year veteran on the force, Sergeant Agy Peña joined the department when she was 21 years old.

She said she always knew she wanted to be a cop.

“I thought that was the most exciting thing that I could do,” she said. “I didn’t want to have a job that I would wake up to and, you know, go to an office everyday and sit there.”

She has chosen to stay on sick leave rather than resign, saying she doesn’t know what she would do if she wasn’t a cop. But a recent doctor’s appointment left her sounding a little discouraged.

“I don’t see it happening anytime soon,” she said.

So she remains on indefinite sick leave, while she powers through speech therapy and physical therapy and works to get back out on the streets where she feels she belongs.

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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