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Single Mother’s Support Network Helps Her Cope With Son’s Illness

Posted: May 12, 2012

PHOENIX -- "There will be a miracle, I just know it, we know it," says Beatriz Delgado, drying her tears on her sweatshirt as she speaks of her 12-year-old son. She and her sister, Rosa Rivera, turn around to look at him and raise their eyes, fighting back tears. They know that the medicine can do no more for Jason -- everything now is in God’s hands.

"He's strong, he is a very strong boy," said Rosa. Her hands tremble when he speaks of her nephew, whom she considers practically a son. Over the years, Rosa has played a supportive role to Beatriz, often stepping in to care for Jason so her sister could deal with the challenges associated with being a single mother and an undocumented worker, challenges that have left her penniless.

Beatriz gets a lump in her throat when she talks about her son. The countless nights spent in hospitals, emergency rooms, and at home sitting bedside with her "baby" have done little to prepare her for this moment. Perhaps a mother can never be prepared to bury her child. With three more kids at home, Beatriz will not be alone; but she has developed what could be described as a special affection for Jason. Sickness and misfortune, the challenges of life, have united them.

Doctors gave Jason three weeks to live. According to their predictions, his time will be up sometime this week or next. But Jason has overcome so many battles, beat the odds so many times, that his mother and aunt remain convinced. There will be more miracles.

In 2008, after Jason had complained of “burning” in his leg, he was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a malignant cancerous tumor that became embedded in Jason’s bone and ate away at his right leg. Despite the chemotherapy and radiation treatments, it had to be amputated.

“The doctors told us that everything was fine (after the amputation), and that we should continue going to the follow-up consultations,” said Beatriz. “[But] on April 6, they told us that the cancer had come back. This time it was found in the head and in the pancreas, and we were told there was nothing they could do for him. They said he only had three weeks left.”

The boy is now spending what doctors at Phoenix Children’s Hospital say are his final days, at home. He’s getting care from Hospice of the Valley, and on good days he even goes to school, like any other healthy child. On some nights he can’t sleep, but there are other days where he experiences no pain and plays with his three siblings as if nothing is wrong.

In addition to the doctor-prescribed medications, Beatriz and her sister regularly give Jason natural remedies, desperate for a cure or anything that will prolong his stay in this world. But they are also doing their best to be prepared for what may come to pass.

"We’re giving him alternative treatments, like blue scorpion toxin, organic coffee pills, stem cells, whatever we can find, because doctors aren’t giving us much hope and with home remedies at least we are seeing a little improvement,” said Rosa. Perhaps she recognizes that they cannot avoid the inevitable.

While the women struggle to maintain poise in front of the child, Jason faces his fate with fortitude and faith. Only once did the boy ask, "Why me? What did I do?"

"He knows everything ... he cried a lot and said he didn’t want this to happen, said he didn’t want to die. I hugged him and told him everything would be fine, with God's help, everything would be fine," said Beatriz.

Last weekend, Jason dressed in white and made his First Communion at the Catholic Church, where he was joined by his grandmother who had traveled from southern Mexico to be with him. She was issued a humanitarian visa that allowed her to stay in the U.S. for a week – she would have gotten more time, but immigration officials don’t consider grandparents to be “direct family” -- but she is fighting to stay longer. She came to be with her grandson during his last days, which could turn out to be many, or few. Immigration authorities are already reviewing her case.

The women, especially Beatriz, who can barely speak yet insists that she doesn’t cry as much as she first did because she is "running out of tears,” have not lost faith. They’ll spend their time doing whatever they can to make Jason’s last days as memorable as possible, although they still trust God will provide them either a surprise, or comfort. In their hearts, they believe it will be the former.

"It will take a miracle ... God will give me a miracle for my child."

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