February 4, 2010

An Everyday Kid – An Everyday Hero

garyBy Gary Metivier

I first met a little boy named Sergio about two years ago. The eleven year old was battling a rare form of cancer in children (acute myeloid lymphoma). Unfortunately, I have met a lot of children battling illnesses these last couple of years. Behind the illness there is a character born from the struggles a child has to face to win the battle against cancer. In Sergio, there was much more character than I expected. His character reveals itself in more ways than one.

“I got disappearing ink and sprayed it on my doctor’s coat,” he laughed as he told me of his latest prank while undergoing treatment in Iowa City this fall.

To understand what it means to see him laugh, and play pranks—you have to know just a little more of his health history. You see Sergio and his mother were in the fight of his life last year. But as sick as he was, this little guy was so touched by the kindness people showed him, that he was determined to find a way to give back.

“He wanted to put on a blood drive to give the blood back that he used to get better,” his mother Melissa explains. “After the first drive he said, we should do it all the time.” And they have done just that. But they did not stop there. He signed on to help organizations like The Children’s Miracle Network with fundraisers.



This fall, the brave boy slowly turning into a young man, stepped up to the podium to address hundreds of people at the Runway to Healing event. He modeled a bit too, strutting his stuff on the runway. “You looked cool, huh?” I teased. “Yeah!” he answered with a smile.

But that smile was hiding something else. As he stood at the podium a bit nervous—his family was nervous too. After beating his cancer the year before, there was new concern about his health. He underwent a painful biopsy just prior to the event. The results would come a few days later—and would take the breath right out of them. Sergio had cancer again.

“I was sad it happened again,” Sergio told me as we sat on the couch in his living room. “

They had been through the most difficult year of their lives. He beat the cancer and was declared cured. Now, they were about to start it all over again. But as heart-broken as they were, they were also determined to fight again with everything they have.

“I’m gong to kick this cancer again,” he said with determination. “I’m going to kick it even harder this time!”

His proud mother shook her head in support and added, “You can’t imagine what this little kid has been through and how strong he has been. All he has been through and he still smiles everyday. He is my hero. I look up to him 100 percent.”

He has found a bone marrow donor and has now been in the hospital fighting for several weeks. He has had plenty of really bad days, and a handful of days to celelbrate. His mom updates his Care Page on a daily basis—sharing his status changes, good and bad, with family and friends. Through it all Sergio and mom Melissa continue pushing for people to help meet and exceed the goal of Dance Marathon—a fundraiser to support families battling cancer.

Sergio and friends

Sergio and friends

If all goes well, Sergio hopes to make it home for the Super Bowl. If not, I am confident his family will find a way to look at the bright side and overcome the next obstacles too. Find a way to keep showing the courage and determination it takes to beat the illness that has changed all of their lives. Along the way still reaching out to give back to others. That makes them everyday heroes in my book.

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