10 years old
pleomorphic xantroastrocytoma (PXA, brain tumor)
Juan enjoys school, particularly science and math classes. He likes hanging out with his mom, Amelia, and his little brother Javier. They go swimming, play board games and watch movies together.
Last July, Amelia’s life turned upside down when Juan suddenly fell ill. He lost his appetite and had a constant headache. An MRI revealed Juan suffered from a brain tumor. He underwent emergency surgery to remove the tumor, but since he did not have health insurance, Amelia worried she wouldn’t be able to get him the care he needed.
Amelia’s sister urged her to look into St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where families never receive a bill for anything. Because the majority of St. Jude funding comes from the public, St. Jude has the freedom to focus on what matters most — saving kids regardless of the financial situation. This means doctors and scientists spend less time on paperwork and more time on lifesaving care and uncovering the next big breakthrough.
Juan and his mother arrived at St. Jude in September. She knew the moment she and Juan walked through the doors that everything would be okay.
At St. Jude, Juan underwent another surgery to remove tumor growth. A biopsy identified the tumor as a PXA, a rare brain tumor in the astrocytoma/glioma family. Juan’s treatment included 33 rounds of radiation therapy.
“Without St. Jude, I don’t think Juan would have gotten the treatment he needed,” Amelia said. “We didn’t worry about anything while we were here. Our doctors and nurses were amazing. Everyone was so supportive.” St. Jude staff even reached out to little Javier at home, to make sure he understood what was going on with his older brother.
Juan is now finished with treatment. His latest set of scans showed no evidence of disease. He loves to do science experiments and play video games. He’s considered being everything from a zookeeper to a policeman to a teacher when he grows up. “Juan’s going to be a master of all trades,” Amelia said. “He can do anything he wants to do.”
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