In August 2017, Santiago started to get sick to his stomach. His parents, Maria and Omar, thought he had a stomach virus, but when Santiago began to lose his balance, their concern grew. When a CT scan revealed Santiago had medulloblastoma, a type of brain tumor, they were devastated.
“I didn’t immediately connect it to a catastrophic illness,” said Maria. “But the following day, when they said cancer, I felt my life crumble.” Santiago’s parents obtained a referral to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and they arrived in November.
As soon as Santiago’s family entered St. Jude, his parents felt peace. “Friends in Ecuador told us it was a wonderful place, that we wouldn’t have to worry about anything,” Maria said. “For us, getting to St. Jude was a miracle. They ensure that your child gets the treatment he needs and we have housing and meals. Santiago is in such excellent hands.”
Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
St. Jude patient Santiago with his brother and father
Santiago’s treatment will include radiation therapy and chemotherapy. “We’ve felt at home since the first day,” Maria said. “Our doctors told us we would feel at home, and that’s exactly what happened.”
Santiago is a sweet boy who loves to talk and dance, and he likes Spiderman and Peppa Pig. Santiago is unsure whether he’ll be a doctor or a pirate when he grows up.