By Josh Cohen
April 8, 2017
ORLANDO – Part of the joy of being at the Amway Center during Orlando Magic games is seeing the elation on children’s faces. Their cheerfulness and excitement is just one of the many reasons families love coming to games.
On Saturday during the Magic’s game against the Indiana Pacers, one particular smile seemed to stand out from the rest. Alan Vasquez, an 8-year-old battling a rare form of brain cancer (DIPG), was overjoyed as soon as he stepped in the building. While there, he met and took pictures with Magic center Bismack Biyombo and Community Ambassador Bo Outlaw.
“He’s really happy, he’s really excited,” said the child’s mother, Midy Vasquez, while the family was standing on the court during pregame warmups.
The last few months have been strenuous for the entire Vasquez family. After learning of their son’s condition, Vasquez’s parents had to make some tough decisions.
For one, their research on treatment options guided them to Mexico where they just returned from a month-long stay in Monterrey. There, unlike what would be offered in the U.S., Vasquez found intra-arterial chemotherapy. This essentially is a combination of drugs that is injected into a major artery and straight into the tumor.
Oncologists in Mexico are supplying Vasquez with FDA-approved drugs that are not readily available in the U.S.
The other complication for the family has been the cost of treatment. They had to recently sell their east Orlando home.
Despite these challenges, things are certainly looking up for Vasquez and the family. His latest MRI showed a 50 percent decrease in the tumor on his brainstem.
Attending Saturday’s Magic game and meeting players helped boost his spirit as well.
“They (the Magic) had mentioned it (getting tickets for Magic game) a few weeks ago before we had left (for Mexico),” Midy Vasquez said. “Two days ago they said we have the tickets and we were so excited. It’s awesome.”