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Relay for Life: Family fights cancer of 7-year-old boy (Video)

By JR Ortega
April 26, 2013 at 9 p.m.
Updated April 26, 2013 at 11:27 p.m.

James Monroy Jr., 7, is carried by his sister, Jasmine Monroy, 14, during the Relay for Life at Memorial Stadium practice track. James Jr. was diagnosed with   Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in July and is finishing treatment with a positive outlook.

For James Monroy, Relay for Life was always about others grappling with cancer.

Like the woman with a double mastectomy or the man who lost his life after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

But not his son; no, not that peewee-looking 7-year-old with buzzed cut hair donning a surgical mask.

Monroy's family teams up each year for the cancer event, hoping to find a cure and raise awareness.

The difference at Friday's relay was that his son, James Monroy Jr., is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia, one of the most common, curable forms of childhood cancer.

"It's tough, but you really don't know what you can accomplish until you're put in the situation," his father said.

James Jr. - or Buddy, as his family calls him - goes to Torres Elementary School but had to take an entire year off while undergoing treatment.

Buddy was diagnosed in July. The symptoms started simply with a nosebleed that just wouldn't stop, his father said.

Since then, Buddy has undergone chemotherapy. Right now, he's in maintenance, and the family makes a drive to Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi every Friday for a chemo session.

"He's our baby," his father said. "It's good because he sees kids out here with the same thing. He's not alone in this fight."

The relay, which was at the Memorial Stadium practice track on Sam Houston Drive, brought out 47 teams, said Keisha Smith, volunteer manager.

"I think it was a good show," she said of the turnout. "I'm glad that everyone could make it out."

Alex Sigtenhorst, 14, stood among a sea of purple survivors, just like her.

Each person has a different story, she said, but they all share the battle together.

The St. Joseph High School sophomore began her battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 4. She was one of the honorees this year.

"Seeing all these young kids out here, it just makes me feel like they don't really understand," Alex said. "But it feels nice that they support regardless."

That support is what pushes the Monroy family to find hope even when times get hard.

"(Buddy's) a fighter," his father said. "He hasn't stopped fighting. He's determined to kick it."



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