Nelly Gutierrez - Right, before the exhibit
Nelly Gutierrez, 63, is among those featured in the exhibit and book, Right, before I die. The Sylmar, Calif., resident is still with us, living with serious illness.
Why did you agree to be part of Andrew George’s project in the first place?
I was asked by a girl friend who’s a friend of Andrew’s. When they came to my apartment, the project was already going on. When he approached me, I told him I thought it was a good idea. I was very, very sick. And here was someone interested in what was going on with me, so I was of course willing. Plus, Andrew is a very nice guy.
What illness did you or do you have and how are you doing these days?
Well, I am worse than I was. I have a heart problem now. When Andrew interviewed me I was on dialysis with diabetes and blind for two years. Now I have had nine stents in my heart; I have liver and lung problems. And I have some problem with my pelvic bone. I can hardly walk because of the pain. But other than that I try to live one day at a time and leave it to God to do the rest.
What do you think about when you see the photo Andrew took of you?
That photo is me. I think I look younger in person. But he captured everything in my face. All my suffering is in my face. I like it. I love the photo.
What do you hope visitors experience and take away from the exhibit?
I want them to look at me as an example. I want them to be happy to be alive and to not have problems like me. I know I have a lot have health problems. Hopefully they don’t have as many as me. No matter what your health, think about your life. It’s not easy to be like me.
Are you surprised to still be alive
Actually, I am. I intend to go on with my life no matter how hard it is. It’s no fun having the sicknesses that I have, but my faith keeps me going.