SCANDIA, Minnesota (WPVI) -- William Mendoza, from Scandia, Minnesota, believes the spirit of his late mother saved him from a blizzard earlier this month,
However, that "God-given miracle" as he calls it, led to another life-challenging hurdle after he was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
Mendoza said he decided to pull off Interstate 94, just west of Fargo, North Dakota, to look for a hotel after a snowstorm turned from bad to worse the night of Feb. 6.
"It started to get bad and when I exited the freeway, I kind of became disoriented," said Mendoza. "It was hard to see and then I got stuck in a snowdrift and could not call for help because my cell phone was dead."
Mendoza spent that night and the following night inside his car without food, water, or heat and hoped and prayed, he said, someone would come by and find him.
"My mother passed away about a year ago," said Mendoza. "And, I knew that she was looking over me and I really think that's what got me through those tough couple days."
Mendoza said he only got discouraged once and thought he might die if someone did not find him by Friday night and that's when he said a "God-given miracle" appeared at his driver's side door.
"There was this guy tapping on my window Friday morning," said Mendoza. "He was a phone company repair worker and he saved my life by finding me that day."
Mendoza's wife, Vicki, said she had not slept for days worried about her husband's condition, or if he would ever be found after they had not heard from him.
"It was so hard and it is like your whole heart sinks," Vicki said. "I was up at night pacing and just was so worried and in a panic and felt helpless."
The Mendoza family rejoiced when they heard the news he had been found safe and was being treated at a North Dakota hospital for frostbite and severe hypothermia.
But, on his 59th birthday, just after receiving word that his hypothermia had been treated successfully, doctors delivered a devastating message.
Mendoza said he was informed he had stage-four kidney cancer.
"Its like a cruel twist of fate. We received a God-given miracle that he's alive through the snowstorm and to find out he has this cancer," says Vicki.
"I am determined to do whatever I have to do to fight this," said Mendoza. "It was something they found while treating me for the hypothermia and I guess it is better to know and get on with fighting it than to not know."
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