of the month
José Adrián Chavarría Reyes
This smiling face belongs to 9-year old José Adrián Chavarría Reyes. José Adrián lives in Ajijic with his parents and two siblings, an older brother and a younger sister. Mom, Silva, is a housewife and Dad, Noé, is a carpenter.
A year and a half ago José Adrián was diagnosed with A.L.L.—acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a fast-growing cancer of the white blood cells. This cancer affects the ability of a person’s lymphocytes in the blood to develop normally. These unformed cells are known as “blasts” and do not fulfill their task of fighting infections. These unformed cells grow quickly, crowding out normal red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets that the body needs.
José Adrián’s first symptoms were profound tiredness, fever, vomiting and lack of appetite. Fortunately his parents have Seguro Popular (the free and fairly new Mexican family health insurance) and were able almost immediately to contact doctors at the Hospital Civil in Guadalajara. Blood tests were performed and the diagnosis was clear—the beginning of A.L.L. In the U.S. there are about 4000 new cases of A.L.L. every year, mostly in children under 10 years of age. It is of the essence that treatment be started as soon as possible since, as I mentioned, this is a very fast-growing cancer.
His doctors have prescribed at least 120 weeks of chemotherapy, both oral and intravenous. To date he has completed 15 weeks, usually in sessions once or twice a week, but now being cut back to once a week. José Adrián is tolerating treatments very well, even though the first few days after treatment leave him tired and nauseous. In the photo you see him with a pretty good shock of hair, but when he and his parents first enrolled in Programa pro Niños Incapacitados, his head was a bit more bare as a result of his first sessions of chemo.
José Adrián’s parents came to Niños Incapacitados to request help with the transportation costs to and from Guadalajara. Their insurance does cover the chemo treatments and hospital stays, but they have no one with whom to leave their other children, so everyone must go to the hospital. In addition, the motion of the bus makes José Adrián sick to his stomach, so that is not an option. (For those of you who don’t know, a round-trip bus ride to Guadalajara now costs 100 pesos except for small children who can ride on their parent’s lap.) thus, Niños Incapacitados is paying the gas money for a relative who drives them back and forth.
José Adrián is doing very well and we hope his leukemia will go into remission so that he does not have to undergo a bone marrow transplant, a quite serious last resort for patients who do not respond to chemo and/or radiation. We wish him all the best, of course. At our last monthly meeting he told us in a very adult way about his treatments, naming certain medicines and procedures. This is a smart kid!
If you would like to learn more about Niños Incapacitados and what we do—and if you would like to meet one of the children in the Program–please attend our regular monthly meetings at 10:00 in one of the conference rooms at the Hotel Real de Chapala in La Floresta. The May meeting on the 9th will be the last until September as so many of our members are away for the summer. Nonetheless, our work in helping families pay for medical expenses continues no matter what the season. Please join us on September 12th.