Friday, September 7, 2012
Medical Reports: Mother's Mission
We hear about breast cancer and other adult cancers, but one local mom says we don't hear enough about cancers that take our children way to young. 7's Diana Diaz shows us how she's on a Mother's Mission to find a cure for childhood cancer.
WSVN -- Even in a big family of five kids little Salvatore Vanni was a bright light.
Silvia Vanni: "He was the love of everybody's life. He was always laughing and joking. He made our whole family complete."
The 4-year-old seemed healthy and happy until the day he suddenly started complaining that his leg hurt.
Silvia Vanni: "A week later he couldn't't walk. He was crawling and crying, we sent him for blood work."
Tests would reveal the worst.
Silvia Vanni: "It was neuroblastoma, and it was stage four metastasized to all his bones. He had a massive tumor in his belly."
The little boy would suffer through a torturous three and a half years of toxic and often painful treatments.
Silvia Vanni: "There's nothing like watching your child suffer like that, and for them to say 'Mommy help me', and you can't do anything."
Sal and his family were literally hanging on for the next trial or experimental treatment that might be the one to save his young life.
Silvia Vanni: "He always said 'Don't worry momma we'll just go on to the next' always assuming there would always be a next. Eventually there was no more trials for him and the disease took over and he died a very horrific death."
Silvia can't save Sal but the North Miami mom is dedicated to saving other kids like him.
She started the Mystic Force Foundation to bring attention to childhood cancers, and to raise desperately-needed money for research.
Dr. Regina Graham: "The ultimate goal is to find more effective but find less toxic therapies. Unfortunately, we are not as far along as we should be because we don't have the research funds."
The foundation's main researcher Dr. Regina Graham has teamed up with Sal's oncologist from Miami Children's Hospital to come up with new ways to fight aggressive cancers. The team is even using Sal's cells to help other children.
Dr. Guillermo De Angulo: "Whenever I have a patient with neuroblastoma we collect his or her cells, and have them grown and we see if there is something different in this cell line on comparison to Sal's."
Dr. Regina Graham: "His cells were very aggressive. I hope I can find something that would be good at killing Sal's cell it would probably work on other children's cancer cells as well."
While Sal's cells are helping other kid, his mother is hoping to help other parents.
Silvia Vanni: "Hope is what cancer parents live on. We live on the hope for the next new trial, next new treatment. We live for the hope that our child will be cured from cancer one day. This is my life goal to stand up to cancer, to find a cure for cancer."
Diana Diaz: "And you can help in the fight against cancer. We hope you will tune in to WSVN tonight at 8 p.m. for the Stand Up to Cancer fundraising special. The nationally-televised program will be a star-studded event you won't want to miss."
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