Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: Valley mother shares son's story
Imagine you're a social worker helping families navigate the challenges of childhood cancer at the Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children's Cancer and Hematology Clinic, and one day you find out your child has been diagnosed with leukemia.
Last December, Yadhira Huerta's teenage son Diego was doing what boys do before starting high school.
"He was exercising quite a bit," Huerta said. "Because he wanted to start high school looking a little bit different. Looking buff and strong."
But Huerta says she noticed something strange in her son; Diego began complaining about chest pains.
After a trip to the hospital, Diego was taken to the Vannie Cook Clinic, where his mom works. Huerta says that's where she learned Diego had a mass in his chest and was diagnosed with leukemia.
"All he focused on was the word 'cancer'," she said. "The word cancer completely made him a different child."
According to the American Cancer Society, this year, about 10,500 children will be diagnosed with cancer.
Director of Philanthropy and Public Relations for Vannie Cook Clinic, Victoria Martinez, says they see about 65 new cancer diagnoses each year.
With almost a year into her son's treatment, Huerta says she's doing her part to inform the community that young people can also be affected by cancer.
For the rest of the year, Huerta says she plans to help her son stay on track with his treatments and maintain his muscles for high school.