of the month
By Rich Petersen
María Isabel Tolentino Peralta
This bright-eyed little girl is three and a half-year-old María Isabel Tolentino Peralta. María Isabel lives in San Juan Cosalá with her parents and three siblings, one sister and two brothers. She is the youngest of the four children. Mom, María Guadalupe, is a housewife and Dad, Eladio, works at the big Abastos Market in Guadalajara loading trucks and delivering produce around the city.
About one year ago, María Isabel’s mother noticed that the child was having trouble keeping her balance when walking and had to hold onto objects in the room in order not to fall. This balance problem followed on the heels of a fever of two weeks’ duration, even though the fever was then back to normal. Subsequently, the child suffered six days of vomiting, also finally brought under control, but the imbalance problem continued.
When seen by neurologists at the Hospital Civil in Guadalajara, the symptoms were recognized as possibly being the result of a tumor in the brain, so an MRI was performed which unfortunately did show a tumor in the posterior cranial fossa. (Fossae are large depressions we have in our cranial cavity that house very important aspects of the brain, e.g., the cerebellum, the pons and the medulla.) A biopsy of the tumor was performed and it was found to be malignant.
A drainage valve was then placed in her skull to release fluid pressure, and María Isabel was begun on chemotherapy. She goes to the hospital one week each month for her chemo. Four more months of therapy are being advised by the doctors, at the end of which another MRI will be performed. If the tumor has disappeared she will of course be off of chemotherapy. If the tumor has shrunk in size, then the doctors will operate to remove what remains. If there has been no change in the size of the tumor, the chemotherapy will be continued another four months.
Niños Incapacitados has been assisting the family with the cost of transportation to and from the hospital as well as any tests not covered by the family’s Seguro Popular. This is a type of family insurance instituted in the country a few years’ ago, but which does not always have the funding to pay for all types of tests and medications. We are of course hoping for the best and that at the end of the next four months the tumor will have disappeared.
I wish you could meet this little girl in person. For being so young and having such a difficult diagnosis, María Isabel is as alert and talkative as you would expect any three-year-old to be. Her grasp of words is amazing, and she will answer you right back when you ask a question. She still has difficulty walking without assistance, but there is no doubt that her cognitive faculties are not impaired. She loved being brought to our meeting in a “big red car” and charmed all of us with her smile and bright eyes. If you would like to meet other children being helped by Niños Incapacitados, please attend our regular monthly meetings on the second Thursday of each month in one of the meeting rooms at the Hotel Real de Chapala in La Floresta. Coffee and cookies at 10:00, meeting at 10:30. Bring a friend. You will learn how you can volunteer in many different ways and how your monetary support helps so much to assist needy families whose children suffer from a chronic and/or debilitating illness or condition.
Thank you again to all of you who are part of our “Sustaining Niños” pledge program. As with any charity here at Lakeside, we couldn’t do what we do without your support. HAPPY NEW YEAR!