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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Child, family battle cancer

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Teresita Silva holds her son Cesar who is going through cancer treatments. They are surrounded by the other children in the family - Luiz, Adriana and Christina. /Photo by Lorri Glawe
Cesar Tapia appears to be a healthy 5-year-old boy, running and playing and grinning his toothless grin - but he is undergoing three years of treatments for leukemia which he was diagnosed with in October.

He is the son of Teresita Silva, Storm Lake.

She will always remember the devastation she felt when she learned her son had leukemia - something she never expected to hear.

"He was always an active kid and liked to play. All of a sudden he had a lot of pain in his legs and he stopped playing. That just was not him so I took him to the doctor," she shared.

Tests revealed that he had low iron levels. She was not satisfied with the results so requested another test. Without giving her the results, she and her son were sent on to Omaha. Alone, she was told the news.

"It was the most scary thing I have ever gone through," she said. "He was scared being in a different place and I was scared but I couldn't cry. I had to be strong for him. My first thought when they said 'cancer' was - is he dying?"

He was admitted immediately and treatment was started. Mom quickly had to find a place for her three other kids at home - Christina, a freshman at SLHS; Adriana, an eighth grader at SLMS; and Luiz, a second grader at SLE - and is grateful to friends who brought the kids to their home.

Teresita and Cesar stayed at Omaha for six weeks before returning home. She learned quickly all about leukemia and of the treatments available - and especially the improvements that have been made in treatments. That, she said, gave her the initial hope she needed that her son would have a chance to recover.

Cesar has a port which saves so much needle poking and allows for medications to be administered and go directly to where they need to go. Cesar is quite shy, his mom pointed out, but has come to enjoy the "attention" the nursing staff gives him when he is at the hospital for treatments.

"The nurses are awesome and so strong, caring for all those children with cancer. I always pray for them," Teresita said.

Cesar has had the majority of his treatments at Omaha but has been thankful to be able to utilize the Storm Lake Oncology Department on occasion. She highly regards all of the nurses there as well and the support they offer her.

For three years they will be making regular trips to Omaha for treatments. The prognosis looks good and Teresita is so relieved.

"I have noticed a big difference. He is back to playing. He has become a stronger boy."

And the entire family has been changed by the experience.

"You have heard, 'Live life everyday' but you don't know the real meaning of that until something like this happens to you. When I look back and see what we've gone through, I thank God he gave me so much strength and support. I want to say thank you to everyone that has been there with us, supporting us and praying for us."

Cesar and his family will be at the Relay for Life on Friday and he will walk the children's lap which will take place after 7:30 p.m.

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