Boy from Bolivia fighting leukemia wishes for a dog

BY VIVIANA MUÑOZ

vmunoz@ElNuevoHerald.com

Victor Hugo Mariaca is a brave little boy who, at the young age of 7, is waging a battle against leukemia. A native of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, he was diagnosed in September 2008 at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach while on vacation with his parents.

Despite an intense treatment of chemotherapy, Victor Hugo retains his smile, renews his strength every day and attends classes at the South Miami K8 Center, a short distance from the modest apartment where he lives with his parents.

His parents, Hugo and Silvia, left everything behind: jobs, family, friends.

“Our lives have completely changed. Our hearts, our minds, our strength are directed at our son,” said his father, 50, who works in recycling.

Victor Hugo, cheerful and playful, is learning English rapidly and getting ahead in his second-grade class.

“We’re delighted to listen to him and observe his progress. We’re trying to bring together a team of volunteers to help him do his daily homework,” his father said.

Hugo and Silvia brought Victor Hugo to Florida so he could visit Disney World. Their vacation turned into a nightmare when they learned their only son was gravely ill.

On Sept. 3, 2008, the couple traveled from Bolivia to New York for a 17-day vacation. On the way, the boy began to complain of exhaustion.

“His legs hurt and we had to buy a cart to carry him, because at one point he was unable to walk,” his father said. In Miami, Victor Hugo got worse. He stopped eating. His face had small bruises; his skin was covered with red spots. At Mount Sinai, doctors delivered the terrible news.

“ `Your son has leukemia,’ they told us, and we were plunged into darkness,” Hugo said.

Then began the battle for the boy’s life. The three went to Miami Children’s Hospital and after two weeks of intensive therapy, the couple contacted the Children’s Cancer Caring Center, an organization that helps children diagnosed with cancer whose parents lack medical insurance or money to pay for the treatment.

The center placed Victor Hugo in Baptist Hospital. He is now in the last stages of treatment, which will last at least 2 ½ years. A five-year observation period will follow.

“To us, the most important thing is the boy and winning the battle against this disease,” said Lee Klein, volunteer president of the Children’s Cancer Caring Center, who nominated Victor Hugo for the Wish Book. “Victor Hugo is brilliant and very special, with a tremendous desire to study. He is very loving and grateful to be alive, and his parents are marvelous people.”

An intelligent and enthusiastic boy, Victor Hugo does not allow his illness to interfere with his dreams. Daily, he asks his parents when they will bring him the present he wants most for Christmas: a black cocker spaniel.

“We want to give it to him, because he doesn’t have anyone to play with here, and he misses the little dog he left back home,” his father said. Victor Hugo also wants a television and DVD player for his room.

The parents got an extension of their tourist visas, but they are now waiting for a visa extension for their son from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“Our son’s chances of survival in Bolivia are minimal,” Hugo said. “We’re asking God to grant us legal shelter here, so we can stay as long as needed for little Victor to finish his treatment.

“After living more than a year in the United States, we are grateful for the kindness of the people we have met, who have opened their hearts to us and treat us with love and understanding. God brought us to the place where dreams come true.”

 Source: Miami Herald

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: