Meet our young warriors

Meet Elian – Leukemia Warrior

meet elian

“We are so grateful for the NCCS because their assistance has put our minds at ease during this terrible time in our lives. They give support to our family that we didn’t expect to get with our child being diagnosed with ALL,” Jesenia shared.

In September of 2022, Elian was so excited about starting his first grade year with all of his friends from kindergarten. He was very active in The Boys and Girls Club and loved doing all kinds of activities with his friends. That would all change in the course of a month, when this healthy 6 year-old became increasingly sick right before his 7th birthday. His parents, Jesenia and Ramon, had no idea they were about to embark on the journey of their lives.

With each passing day of the school year, Elian came home more and more exhausted. Even the excitement of trick-or-treating could not compete with the need for him to sleep. While he didn’t want to miss school and seeing his friends, he struggled with debilitating headaches and had to stay home. That’s when his mom noticed unexplained bruising and little red spots, known as petechiae, forming on his neck.

Jesenia tried not to worry, but after seeing Elian’s neck, she couldn’t help it.  He was rushed to the emergency room and endured a battery of tests to find out what was causing all of these symptoms. The worry his parents felt grew heavier and heavier as they waited for results. They needed answers and for their son to be okay. It was on November 8th – less than a month after his 7th birthday – that he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and admitted into the ICU. This was, undoubtedly, one of the worst days of their lives.

Elian’s care team informed Jesenia and Ramon that their son needed to begin chemotherapy immediately. This meant that they had to stay at the hospital for an entire month. Luckily, his mom’s employer offered time off so she could be with her son full time without worrying about losing her job. While her job was safe, this time off was unpaid. His dad, however, continued to work to support the family and drove over an hour each way to see him every day. The family’s college-aged daughter moved back home to help around the house while her little brother received treatment. Elian also has 15 aunts and uncles combined, and while many of them live in the Dominican Republic, their unwavering support kept the family strong.

Since the family went from a two-income household down to one, Jesenia and Ramon worried about how they were going to be able to support their family while their son went through treatment. The mounting expenses of traveling to and from treatment, along with parking fees, added to the family’s stress. After expressing their concerns to the hospital social worker, they were introduced to The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS).

The NCCS ensured that the family would not have to worry about missing any appointments and provided a highly-trained case manager to stand by their side through the entire journey, offering emotional support and advice on how to best advocate for Elian. With the help of our Emergency Assistance Fund, those fast-mounting parking expenses were no longer a burden to the family.

“We are so grateful for the NCCS because their assistance has put our minds at ease during this terrible time in our lives. They give support to our family that we didn’t expect to get with our child being diagnosed with ALL,” Jesenia shared.

Only a few months into treatment, Elian began experiencing a fever that wouldn’t break, along with rhinovirus, a viral infection that leads to the common cold.  This has been hard on Jesenia and Ramon and even harder on Elian’s little body. With every complication, they had to travel an hour each way for Elian to be treated.

His current treatment plan requires him to be seen five days every week, which means even more driving to and from the treatment center.

The support that Elian’s family received from the NCCS has helped them to feel like they are not alone on their journey. Jesenia said their case manager has been so helpful because, “as a parent, being listened to helps release stress that builds up watching your child battle cancer.” To help Elian’s family through this difficult journey, they also received our free publications: The Other Side of the Mountain: A Parent’s Guide to Surviving Childhood Cancer and Sammy’s New Mask, a coloring book for friends of children with cancer.

Jesenia explained how grateful she is that the NCCS has not only been there for her family financially, but emotionally as well. “The NCCS is great and I feel like they have become a part of our family because they have helped us battle through a tough time. Thank you NCCS for your help!”

While treatment has not been easy, Elian’s parents are grateful to have a son who is outgoing and loving to everyone.