Mother reflects on son's cancer, her care giving
June 9, 2011 at 1:09 a.m.
Little Xavier Lee Flores, who will soon be 2, knows how to pick his battles - and win them.
"Show them your tiger scar," said his mother Monica Flores.
A bit shy, Xavier refrains. But when his shirt is lifted, a 2-inch scar becomes exposed under his rib cage on his right side.
The scar was not from a tiger at all, but from a surgery for neuroblastoma, a large tumor on his right adrenal gland.
Xavier was diagnosed with the cancer at 2 days old, something that was expected because a mass could be seen during the sonogram, his mother said.
The battle has earned him and his mother the 2012 Hero of Hope award for South Texas through the American Cancer Society.
Flores, a single mother, calls Xavier a miracle. She was told she could never have children. But as her pregnancy progressed, she wore a smile from ear to ear.
At one point in the pregnancy, she learned of the mass on her little miracle.
Other problems came up. She had to have Xavier at 34 weeks and he weighed 3 pounds and 15 ounces.
The medical journey was just beginning.
"Our journey with his cancer has been set for other children," said the mother of her now cancer-free son.
Flores was familiar with cancer. She has been doing Relay for Life for about seven years to support others.
But now the disease was personally affecting her and she was in somewhat shock.
"I didn't believe them at first," she said.
Her son had to wait to be taken to the Texas Children's Hospital because he was underweight.
He was then put on medication and they waited. There was a chance the tumor would lay dormant.
But several months later, they learned the tumor had grown and ganglion cells surrounded the tumor.
Xavier underwent a four-and-half-hour surgery in Houston to have the tumor and his adrenal gland removed.
Xavier did not need chemotherapy or radiation.
Now, Flores shares their journey with others. Receiving the cancer society recognition was is something she didn't expect.
"It's very overwhelming," she said. "I think we all put on our jeans one leg at a time, like everyone else."
She had received much of the help through the Victoria chapter of the American Cancer Society and because she was involved with Relay For Life, she was aware of what they could do in terms of providing information, guidance and funding. The organization helped her find lodging through its guest room program. It also provided free transportation for many of Xavier's tests.
Now Xavier looks like an average 2-year-old. He plays with his SpongeBob SquarePants toys that sit in the living room, ready for his second birthday.
"I'm excited for him to begin to understand his journey," she said.