Maria Maldonado-Arbelo

This is dedicated to my 10 year-old son's battle against Anaplastic Astrocytoma Grade III.

Ethan begun having behavioral issues in school and at home. At the end of January, we picked up Ethan from his dad’s and noticed his left eye had almost completely turned inwards and smelled of urine. I set an appt with his Dr & took him for an eye exam on 2/25/12. The Dr dilated his eyes & found spinal fluid pressing on his optic nerve. I tried to make an appt with a neuro-opthomologist but they wouldn't see us without $250 so we took him to the children’s ER. The ER Dr did a CT & found hydrocephalus. My heart sank. What I didn’t know was that Ethan was vomiting & running high fevers back in Dec & his dad never told me nor sought treatment. When the Dr explained the diagnosis my world collapsed. He rushed us to ACH in St. Pete. They did an MRI & Ethan was diagnosed with a glioma. He had surgery to drain the hydrocephalus & do a biopsy. While I was there awaiting his diagnosis my boss called to fire me. I found out that it was an Anaplastic Astrocytoma but was waiting on the grade. March 6 we got the news, grade III & I had already begun researching & knew the prognosis. Dr. Stapleton walked in, spoke with us; his dad walked out of the room. I took full custody of Ethan, his dad is lost in his sorrows. We go each week to St. Pete from our home (2 hrs) so Ethan can get care he deserves. They paint such a pretty picture in the movies but what they don't tell you is the ugly truth of watching your child suffer in agonizing pain & holding his hand as he is wheeled into the OR. They don't tell you how you lose sleep each night praying that your child wakes up or how financially draining it is; how you watch everything you've worked so hard for just slip away. It is so hard. I pray for everyone going through the same. May God show mercy on us all.