Just 2 days after a Make-A-Wish Foundation trip, a Twin Falls 11-year-old found out his cancer was back
TWIN FALLS — Just two days after arriving home in October from a Make-A-Wish Foundation trip to Hawaii, 11-year-old Lorenzo Garcia found out his cancer had returned.
Lorenzo had an MRI and the next day during an appointment in Boise, “that’s when they told us,” his mother Kari Garcia said Monday. “We had such a great time and our trip was wonderful, and it was like our bubble popped.”
Lorenzo, a sixth-grader at Robert Stuart Middle School in Twin Falls, started oral chemotherapy the day before Thanksgiving. “He’s done really good on it so far,” Garcia said, adding the only complication has been mouth sores.
Lorenzo takes oral chemotherapy medication every day instead of intravenous therapy.
“He’s on the bunch of different medications right now trying to counteract the side effects,” Garcia said, including a steroid mouthwash to treat the sores, but he hasn’t needed to take anti-nausea medication.
Despite his health challenges, Lorenzo is a straight-A student. Garcia said Monday he sent her a text message at lunchtime to say he’d aced a social studies test.
Lorenzo hasn’t missed school while undergoing chemotherapy, except for medical appointments.
“He really likes school,” Garcia said. “Nothing is going to keep him from going, I don’t think.”
Lorenzo has a 504 Plan set up with the Twin Falls School District in case he needs accommodations due to his health condition. He has down days when he’s tired and not up for everything, Garcia said, but he’s still eating well and enjoys going to school.
In September, sixth-graders at Robert Stuart Middle School attended a surprise assembly at the school, where Make-A-Wish representatives announced Lorenzo and his family would receive a trip to Hawaii. The national nonprofit organization grants wishes for children who are diagnosed with a critical illness.
Children cheered as Lorenzo came up on stage, his face lit up with a huge smile. His wish was going deep-sea fishing to Hawaii.
His wish came true in October. Lorenzo, his parents and his two younger siblings spent nearly a week on Hawaii’s Big Island. Garcia said they received VIP treatment, and everything they could have possibly needed was provided.
“Everyone really goes out of the way for the Make-A-Wish families,” she said.
During their vacation, the family stayed at a resort and went fishing. They also attended to a luau, swam with dolphins, spent time at the beach and saw a volcano.
It was a time to make memories as a family. Over the years, they’ve been through a lot together.
Several years ago, it was a long road to initially diagnosing Lorenzo with cancer. Garcia took him to many physicians in Twin Falls and then asked for a referral to a specialist in Boise about Lorenzo’s stomach issues. Test results were normal.
Since Lorenzo was having sleeping issues, he was referred to a sleep specialist and they found out he has two forms of sleep apnea. He was skipping breaths at night.
Finally, an MRI of Lorenzo’s brain was ordered, which revealed a tumor. Two days later in November 2014, Lorenzo had brain surgery at St. Luke’s in Boise. He spent a few weeks in intensive care.
Two weeks after arriving home, Lorenzo started having headaches. Another MRI showed he had hydrocephalus — an abnormal buildup of fluid in his brain. He had to undergo another surgery, and also had a port put in and a feeding tube. Lorenzo went through chemotherapy for a year.
Now, cancer has returned and Lorenzo is going through chemotherapy again. He has an MRI scheduled for next month to see if the chemotherapy medication is working.
“As long as it stops the tumor from growing and possibly shrinks it, we’ll continue,” Garcia said Monday. But if the tumor grows, Lorenzo will have a port put in and will receive IV chemotherapy. “We’re kind of walking on eggshells right now.”