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‘Something a mom never wants to hear:’ Harlingen family struggling through cancer treatments for 2-year-old son

1 month 1 week 4 days ago Thursday, October 28 2021 Oct 28, 2021 October 28, 2021 10:36 AM October 28, 2021 in News - Local

Two-year-old Zayn Ochoa mumbles more than he can talk. That made it hard for his mom to understand what he was feeling when he was first diagnosed with cancer. 

“The fevers weren't going away, he still wasn't walking,” his mom – Janie Valdez – said. “With blood work, they were able to find out he was diagnosed with leukemia… It's something a mom never wants to hear.”

Zayn looks just like your average 2-year-old.  He loves toys, and he loves to play, but he spends his days in chemotherapy.

To keep up with cancer treatments, Valdez had to quit her 9-5 job. Now she and her husband sell croc charms at the Valle Vista Mall in Harlingen. 

Her business is important, but Valdez said her full-time job is her son. With two sons plus cancer treatments, the family needed Valdez' income, but they're doing the best they can.

“It wasn't easy. I loved my job and I loved what I did, it was just hard to balance my job and be there for my son,” Valdez said. “I entered a whole new life once he got diagnosed. You never know how many kids suffer from childhood cancer until you're living in it… He means the world to me.”

Zayn will be in cancer treatments for the better part of two years. In the meantime, he remains a mostly happy, and active two-year old.

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