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Riverside alum and Bills super fan “Pancho Billa” continues fight against cancer

It’s been almost an entire year since Ezra Castro began cancer treatment.

Castro, who was born and raised in El Paso, now lives in Dallas, but he’s not a Cowboys fan.

Instead, the Riverside alum is a proud lifelong Bills fan – a team he started supporting as a child thanks in large part to their red, white, and blue color scheme.

And for nearly an entire decade now, he’s been dressing up in a mask and costume and assuming the identity of “Pancho Billa.”

Last fall, doctors found a mass wrapped around the diehard Bills fan’s spine. The cancer spread to his liver, lungs, and lymph nodes, and he started treatment in December.

At the time, the 39-year old father of two says he wasn’t sure he wanted to let other Bills fans know about his diagnosis. But now, he’s glad he did.

“You know, I had built so many relationships, and I said they’ve got to know what’s going on with me,” he said in an interview via Skype. “So, I made it public, and, I mean, within two hours it was something that was trending.”

Since then Pancho has had a whirlwind year. In April, he read out Buffalo’s third-round pick at the NFL draft.

Then he got another special surprise this November. He was asked by the Bills to deliver a motivational message to the team before they played the Jets. It must have worked, because the Bills went on to win in blowout fashion, 41-10.

“It’s okay to talk to people about your illness,” he said. “It’s okay to be open about it. It’s okay to share your thoughts on social media because you never know who’s going to reach out to you who’s going through the same thing. And maybe you’ve inspired them.”

Then just this week, Pancho learned he would be the first fan named to the “Buffalo Fan Wall of Fame,” which is part of a planned expansion at the Buffalo Hall of Fame Experience.

Pancho says doctors initially gave him about three years to live – long enough, he believes, to see the Bills win a Super Bowl.

“Now with Josh Allen under center I give it maybe two or three years,” he said. “If we can keep a lot of our defensive players, the older veterans, if we can keep them on board and convince them somehow, you know, it’ll be two to three years easy.”

And while Pancho is confident in his team, he’s even more confident in himself and his own chances.

“I told my doctor, I was like, ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t the cancer that killed me, if it was something else.’ I mean, really, that would be the dream. Cancer didn’t kill Pancho, you know.”

To help Pancho in his fight, you can submit a donation on this GoFundMe page.

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