Rare Cancer Attacks Young Children - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Rare Cancer Attacks Young Children

Malachi Martinez Malachi Martinez
Tanya Martinez Tanya Martinez
Pediatric Oncologist Osvaldo Regueira Pediatric Oncologist Osvaldo Regueira

By Megan Moore
NewsChannel 10

AMARILLO, TEXAS - Imagine welcoming your new baby into the world, only to find out he has cancer.  It is a reality for several local families.

If you look at six year old Malachi Martinez now, you may never know he had cancer.

But he did, when he was just six weeks old.

His mother, Tanya, says "he got sick with pertussis. Through that and a work up of several things to figure out why he wasn't breathing, they found he had a mass in his abdomen and it was neuroblastoma."

The diagnosis shook malachi's parents to their core because "everybody in our family that had cancer, died. You're looking at your tiny baby that you prayed for for a long time and God gave you. It's scary," Tanya says.

Within days, Malachi was being treated with chemotherapy.  After nine months, he was in remission, and "at one year old he was a normal baby," his mother says.

But it took a long time for him to get there.

One local doctor urges parents who believe they could be in the same spot to pay close attention to their child's abdomen for possible signs of the disease.

Pediatric Oncologist Osvaldo Regueira says, "if you have any child that has a progressively bulging abdomen, that should be seen by a doctor."

Treatments include rounds of chemotherapy and sometimes radiation.

The younger the child, the better the chances.

Dr. Rigueira says, "in the babies, ironically enough, even though it's in a lot of areas, it's a very good outcome. It sort of goes against logic."

Tanya Martinez says she and her family relied on their faith in God to get through their baby's cancer.

Today, aside from some restricted activities, Malachi is thriving.  He did have an abnormal MRI this year, which his doctor is still trying to figure out if it's cancer.

Dr. Rigueira says there are some cases in which the cancer just goes away on its own, but they are rare. 

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