Anthony “Lilo”

Little Anthony was born December 27, 2008, a very healthy bouncy baby boy…my junior. A miracle of all miracles. My faith had come to fruition. I finally had a son! The first couple years were beautiful and very fulfilling as you might expect. But, just after Anthony turned two he started to have unexplained fevers that would spike as high as 103. My wife, Monica and I took Anthony from pediatrician to pediatrician trying to find out what was wrong with our little boy.
Unfortunately, no one could give us any answer. But we had faith in God and continued to march forward to look for an understanding. Then, a pediatrician recommended we go to the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Westchester to have him diagnosed. 
After several tests and procedures, which included a bone marrow biopsy, our worst fear came true. Dr. Mehmet Ozkaynak told us that Anthony had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia or A.L.L. As parents, my wife and I could never experience anything more tragic then realizing our child had a life threatening disease.
Our faith in God was strong and we asked Him for guidance as we discussed options with the experts at MFCH.  We had to do our best to get Anthony the best care and we were confident that it was at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and at the same time, we expected our journey to be cold and dark.  To our delightful surprise, when we began our treatment we quickly realized it was not as cold and dark as we feared, as there were many hands reaching out to help us.
The help and encouragement and love came from people I had never met before. There was love for a child the doctors and nurses had never seen before, yet they embraced little Anthony, and us, with open arms. When a parent has to make a decision to put their children’s life in someone else’s hands, it is a difficult decision to make. Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Westchester was the best place to be and we absolutely knew we made the right decision.
Everyone on the staff in this very special wing known as ARTS was amazing. From the nurses on the floor, the doctors on call, to the people that would take Anthony’s food menu for the day. It was a life changing ordeal that we never could have endured alone without the help and support of all these good people, our faith in God and the encouraging pat on the back from the Pediatric Oncology team who said, “Don’t worry, it’s going to be okay.”

It was incredible to watch Anthony exhibit strength and endurance. Because of little Anthony’s strength, Monica, a Medical Assistant in the Infusion Center, gave  him a very well deserved name. She called him our “Lilo Hero.” This is because as little as Anthony was, he was a little hero in all of our eyes. 
Currently our situation is wonderful. Anthony is cured from his cancer and living a great life.  The odds we were given for my son’s survival, were 85 to 90 percent. However, just10 to 15 years before that, the odds were only 50%. I can’t imagine how devastating that number would have been for parents to hear back then. Now the survival rate is so much better because of the tireless research being done. It’s only through this research by dedicated doctors that these odds have been getting better through the years.
We will be forever grateful for the blessing God has given us and the people on the other side of the door that welcomed us with open arms. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to give to the Children’s Cancer Fund. For our son, Anthony “Lilo Hero”, this was just a way of life. For us it was life changing.