A Mother’s Day Story: Juan Pablo
“I Don’t Know What Happened To My Life.”
Ricardo & Isabel Macias took their son, Juan Pablo (6), to the hospital. On February 6, 2019, their world changed. Juan Pablo was diagnosed with leukemia, and home for the next 30 days was the hospital. The family was not prepared for the diagnosis nor a hospital stay.
“The Day Juan Pablo Got Cancer – The Whole Family Got Cancer,” said Isabel quietly.
Isabel received the Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer “Buddy Bag” as Juan Pablo was admitted. Isabel could not believe everything she needed was in the Buddy Bag! A phone charger, snack and toiletries, blanket, pillow, and toys for Juan Pablo. She was not prepared for an overnight hospital stay, much less a month so she was very grateful! The rolling Buddy Bag is kept packed and in the trunk of her vehicle at all times not knowing when they have to quickly get to the hospital.
Ricardo takes a day off from work every week to take Juan Pablo to his treatment. He loses pay for the time off. Sometimes treatment is one day, sometimes two; no one ever knows. Isabel lost her house cleaning jobs. She never knows if Juan Pablo will have a good day, or if they will be headed to the hospital. Her employers hired other housekeepers. The family has received donations from their church, friends, and family to keep their home, car, and insurance but they can’t continue to rely on monthly assistance from friends. Everyone is having a difficult time financially right now.
Before cancer, Juan Pablo was a very active social little boy with lots of friends. He is loved by all and his teachers just adore him. He is smart! He excels in his studies far above his peers.
Now, he does not feel like doing anything. The medication changed his normally cheery disposition. He has bouts of anger now from the high-level steroid treatment. At any moment he can become furiously hungry despite losing his sense of taste from medication. After a few bites, he loses his interest as he no longer has any sense of taste.
When Juan Pablo gets a toy after his cancer treatments, the younger children don’t understand why they don’t get one. “If JP gets one, I want one! If I get cancer can I have toys too?”, they ask their mom. This breaks Isabel’s heart. She pleads with the younger siblings, “Please, he is sick!” But they don’t understand. They are young. Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer programs are for the whole family for this reason. Siblings are always included and receive gifts just like the child.
“Maybe I will buy some water balloons so Juan Pablo and the family can just play outside. We can’t go anywhere, it is just too dangerous for his health,” lowering her voice Isabel continues, “and everything costs money.”
Juan Pablo was a very active and social little boy with lots of friends and loved by all; his teachers adore him. He excels in his studies reading far above his peers but now, he does not feel like doing anything. His temperament has changed from a happy child to having bouts of anger. Juan Pablo has lost his sense of taste so he eats very little. At any moment, he could suddenly be hungry and want a sandwich. Isabel of course wants to get him whatever he desires since he never wants to eat. The younger children ask for it too saying, “JP gets one!” Or, if Juan Pablo gets a toy after his treatment, they ask “If I get cancer, can I get toys?” This breaks Isabel’s heart as she pleads with them, “Please, he’s sick.” But they don’t understand, they’re young.