On July 14, 2016, Ruben Contreras and Judith Jaimes of Woodland, California, received news that would forever change their lives: their 7-year-old son, Ruben Jr., was diagnosed with Diffused Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).
DIPG is a rare pediatric brain cancer, highly aggressive, and difficult to treat. Only about 300 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with it every year. It is extremely rare in adults, and usually is found in children between 5 to 9 years old.
According to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the survival rate has always been and still is very low. At this time, there is no cure.
Surgery is rarely used because of the risks involved. A biopsy could be done, depending on the tumor's type and grade. It also depends on the location of the tumor. Radiation is often used as a temporary treatment. Chemotherapy is currently being tested, along with radiation therapy, to see if there are ways to improve survival rates.
Unfortunately for this family, Ruben Jr. is not the only child with medical issues. His 10-year-old sister is in a wheelchair and was born with cerebral palsy.
Ruben Sr. has taken medical leave from his job to help take care of his children. With expensive medical bills, even affording groceries have been extremely difficult.
Less than two weeks ago, the family received results from an MRI. They were heartbroken to learn that the brain tumor has only grown and spread. Ruben Jr. may only have two months left to live.
"At this time, I would like to ask all of you to please share his story and pray for a miracle," said Judith, his mother. "I have not given up. I will continue to do what I can...so I can be the best mother I can be."
Judith is hoping she can take Ruben Jr. on one last trip.
The Woodland community has been trying to help support this family with donations and fundraisers. On Friday, there will be a fundraiser at the Blue Note Brewing Company (750 Dead Cat Alley, Woodland, CA 95695). 20% of beer sales will go to the family. There will also be a silent auction.