(Miami, June 28, 2007) – Just one year ago, 18-year-old José Calderón was captain of his soccer team and a top student in his class. His future was full of hope, as he planned on starting college and pursuing a possible professional soccer career. All this changed abruptly when last November he was diagnosed with Acute Lympho blastic Leukemia (ALL). ALL is a rapidly progressing form of cancer of the white blood cells, also known as lymphoblasts, characterized by the overproduction and continuous multiplication of these malignant and immature cells in the bone marrow.
The International Kids Fund (IKF) is calling upon the community for help in raising $120,000 for José’s care. He needs to undergo about three years of chemotherapy in order to rid him completely of the cancer; the most aggressive part of the treatment will be the first year and a half. “Adolescents tend to develop a more resistant type of leukemia; it is more difficult to treat than in younger children. José needs to undergo treatment, otherwise he will not survive” said Dr. Julio Barredo, Professor and Director of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Division at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center.While living in his native country, Dominican Republic, José began to suffer pain in his muscles, back and knees that did not allow him to sleep and, at times, walk. Doctors in Santo Domingo originally thought he was suffering from arthritis, and began to treat him with steroids. Since his symptoms continued they decided to do a bone marrow aspiration. But the exact diagnosis remained uncertain; physicians recommended he seek treatment in the United States. José’s family learned about the IKF through a friend of the family that knew about the organization. It was not until he arrived in February to the U.S. that a second bone marrow aspiration was conducted and he was diagnosed with ALL. Doctors in Miami also found that José has a rare subtype of leukemia, known as extreme hypodiploid ALL, which is a resistant type requiring more intense treatment.
José is a very active, disciplined young man that has played soccer since he was 5. He is very admired by his classmates, who are constantly giving him support. “I just want my life back. I have many dreams I still have to fulfill. I want to play soccer and be able to attend my graduation along with my friends.” said José.
Because the teenager is not a U.S. resident, the public hospital cannot use taxpayers’ money to pay for his treatment. Instead, it is being offered to the IKF at charitable rates. The IKF is a program of the Jackson Memorial Foundation that seeks to provide medical care to needy children from around the world who suffer from serious illnesses that cannot be treated in their home countries.
“It is a devastating disease, but one with a treatment. We ask the community and those that have a loved one that has suffered from some type of cancer to help restore this young man’s hopes and dreams,” said María Luisa Chea,