True Heroes. Cancer Survivors
Every year in June, our nation comes together to celebrate true heroes that have fought the good fight and continue of fighting to make life after cancer better. In honor of National Cancer Survivors Month, we would like to introduce Yadian Diaz Saez and Lauren Schille, two young but unbelievably strong National Pediatric Cancer Foundation patients and share their stories of determination and successes battling cancer.
Yadian Diaz Saez
6 years old, in remission from Stage 3 Wilm’s Tumor (Tampa)
On June 6, 2018 I got a call from Yadian’s pre-k teacher stating that his urine had blood particles in it. I immediately left work and took him to his pediatrician. When he was asked for a urine sample there, there was no urine only blood. From that moment I knew something was wrong. They told us to get a sonogram the next morning because it might be a kidney stone, which I didn’t understand because my son was barely a soda drinker. 30 minutes after the sonogram his doctor called to say the hospital had a bed ready for him and I needed to rush over there. I had lost my mind and called everyone on my contact list to help me get rid of my anxiety.
We arrived at the hospital and the doctors ran a series of tests. I was a wreck all night waiting for the results. The next day June 8, 2018 the Nephrologist came to our room with another doctor. “I have the Hematologist/Oncologist here with me.” My world collapsed when I received his diagnosis of Stage 3 Wilms Tumor. I explained to my 4-year-old that he has a monster trying to eat his kidney.
Yadian was scheduled for surgery on June 14th to remove the tumor. The surgery was to take 4hrs in order to remove the estimated 2-inch tumor. I waited 7 ½ long hours battling through my worst nightmares. When the surgeon came out, he said the tumor was much larger than expected, 15 cm long and 8 cm wide.
Following surgery, on Yadian’s birthday, he started 7 months of treatment including radiation and weekly chemotherapy. There were good and bad days, and he was terrified of doctors at this point. He lost his beautiful curly hair and became fragile and couldn’t play like the other children his age. At 5 years old my son was diagnosed with depression. I felt like his childhood was taken away.
It has been a very rough road. Recently, some nodules have been found and we’re hoping that it’s not a relapse. Yadian is left with one kidney, so his sports are limited. Despite these challenges he is happy he fought through his cancer, and now he wants many other kids to beat it and he sees that he wasn’t alone. Many kids are not as fortunate as him. Our lives have been changed forever but it may just have made both of us stronger. Cancer is terrible but we met others in similar situations, and we are now like extended family. We are so happy we are not alone!
Jomarie Saez, Yadian’s mom
11 years old, survivor of Rhabdomyosarcoma (Lakeland, FL)
On June 24th, 2011, at the age of 3, Lauren was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive cancer called Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. What started out as an innocent stomach ache ended in the ER with a CT scan that showed a large mass in her abdomen. Throughout treatment she hit some road bumps; she lost a significant amount of weight during her radiation treatment, so she had to have a feeding tube placed for supplemental feedings; one of the chemotherapy drugs (Vincristine) caused neuropathy in her legs which caused her to use a walker and eventually a wheel chair. She spent the majority of 2011 in-patient at St. Joseph’s for treatment.
Lauren has also had post-treatment side effects from the harsh chemicals and radiation. Her immune system was severely affected, so she developed multiple ear and sinus infections and eventually had to have her tonsils/adenoids removed and tubes placed in her ears. The Vincristine also weakened the muscles in her eyes which developed into strabismus. This required her to have surgery in both eyes.
Lauren has been diagnosed with a low heart rate which is currently being monitored. In January 2019sheunderwentmajor surgery due to a complication of treatment effecting her ears.
“I felt like his childhood was taken away.”, “She reminds us all to enjoy life and to live in the moment!”
Through all this, we are happy and blessed to say that Lauren has been in remission for 6 years, despite the ongoing battle of all the side effects that she will live with for the rest of her life. Lauren is determined to help find safer, more effective treatments for children with cancer, which is why she has been very involved with the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation since going through treatment. With everything she has been through Lauren continues to smile and live her life to the fullest. She reminds us all to enjoy life and to live in the moment!
Stories very similar to these happen tens of thousands of times a year in this country. And the individuals aren’t just actors in some fairytale. They are real children…real moms…real dads. And these kids are real fighters. They are the reason that we are such avid supporters of the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. If you are in the market for scrubs, please consider shopping with us at Just Cause Scrubs and selecting the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation at checkout.