wARRIORS OF THE MONTH
As part of our foundation’s mission to raise awareness, we would like to recognize the brave pediatric warriors who are battling cancer. Starting this month, our Warrior of the Month program will share one courageous journey or story each month.
If you would like to share your story, please contact us via social media or .
JANUARY 2021: EZEKIEL MARTINEZ
Ezekiel was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on November 5, 2019 at 21 months old. He is now about to celebrate his third birthday! He did not reach 0% minimal residual disease at the prospective time (have no cancer cells in body) so he was moved to the "high risk" bracket and he reached 0% MRD (no cancer cells) on March 13, 2020. Although he is considered to be in remission, his battle continues for approximately 2 more years to ensure that every single leukemia cell is destroyed. If even one cell is hiding in the body, it can quickly multiply and cause a relapse. Through all the bumps along his journey, he always smiles and pushes through. He has just finished Frontline treatment, the most invasive part, and entered maintenance. This means his 4x a week chemo infusions at the hospital have been decreased to 2x a month with most of his chemo taken at home. To Ezekiel’s family, it seems like a never ending tunnel to maintenance but also the fastest 11 months of their lives. They are so happy to be here because it means they are one step closer to ringing the bell and being free of this monster.
With Ezekiel's father being a Hodkins Lymphoma survivor, their family is definitely resilient and tough. Together, they plan to overcome this and walk away stronger than ever.
If you would like to continue to follow Ezekiel’s journey, you can check out @ezekiels.battle (on instagram)!
FEBRUARY 2021: ROSIE JANE ROSELL
Rosie Jane Rosell turned 3 years old when she stopped walking. It took her family a month with many doctor appointments to figure out what was wrong. On July 6th, their whole world changed with a blood test. Immediately, she had two transfusions followed by a bone marrow biopsy, a port inserted in, and started chemotherapy.
From there, she started to experience side effects of her treatment as well. Hair loss, nausea, neuropathy, muscle and leg pain, and steroids became Rosie Jane’s world. Rosie Jane almost spent two months in the hospital due to low counts followed by a bacterial infection and a common cold. Rosie Jane didn’t walk for 13 weeks but through physical therapy and the encouragement of her three older siblings, Carly, John John, and Reed, she learned to walk again and even has started to run!
Her world now consists of constant appointments through out-patient visits with oncologists, psychologists, neurologists, and many trips to the ER because of her compromised immune system. She takes multiple pills a day and tries so hard to be good even when she doesn’t feel well.
Just as her mother, Emily, says, “We are so proud of Rosie Jane and will be right by her side for the two years of treatment. Rosie Jane, we love you baby girl, you can do it!”
MARCH 2021: RYAN SCARLET BRANCH
Ryan was diagnosed with stage 4 Wilms tumor of the kidney in August of 2020. The tumor grew from her right kidney and began to spread up through her vein towards her heart. She underwent two months of chemo to shrink the tumor, mainly from that vein.
Unfortunately, the tumor only shrunk in her kidney, not the desired vein. As a result, she had a 12 hour surgery to have her right kidney removed, as well as the tumor from the vein that was leading up to her heart. The surgery was a success! Soon after, she underwent 6 treatments of radiation and two more months of chemo. Ryan’s last chemo treatment was this past March 12th!
She has a few more CT and X-Ray scans to determine the next steps in her healing process!
APRIL 2021: ALEX VUCISH
On Mother’s Day of 2020, Alex’s family got the heartbreaking news that he (3 years old) had been diagnosed with High Risk Stage 3 Neuroblastoma. As most cancer families know, hearing "Your child has cancer” are the most devastating words a parent can hear. For Alex’s family, it felt like their world was crashing down.
Since then, Alex has fought and persevered through his treatments, including 6 rounds of aggressive chemo, liver failure that left him on life support for 2 weeks, a 15 hour tumor removal surgery, relearning how to walk, 2 stem cell harvests, a bone marrow transplant, and 14 rounds of radiation. Also, during this time, Alex’s brother, Dominic, was born.
Now, Alex and his family continue the rough journey against cancer, working through the lowest lows and highest highs. While they dearly miss their life before Alex’s cancer diagnoses, they are extremely proud of how far Alex’s come and how he continues to give this fight his all! We are all cheering for you Alex!