“The next day, Paula, Felipe’s mother, got a call that she will never forget…”

Runway to Hope would like to honor Felipe as our August Model of the Month and share his story. This incredible young man and his family have been through a hard journey, but they consistently have smiles on their faces. Before Felipe’s pediatric cancer diagnosis, he was an active soccer player. During practice, he kept complaining about having knee pain and his family took him the pediatrician to have some x-rays done. Everything appeared to be fine. Soon after, at soccer practice, he scored a goal, but every time he touched the ball, he was having pain in his right leg. While Felipe was running the next day at school, he lost his balance and his knee began to swell. His mother took him back to the pediatrician’s office and they sent the family to Nemours Children’s Hospital for an MRI. The next day, Paula, Felipe’s mother, got a call that she will never forget. “We need to meet with you urgently” was the message and the family returned to the hospital. The pediatric orthopedist diagnosed Felipe with cancer and referred his family to a pediatric oncologist.

Felipe was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer on May 18, 2017. Felipe endured ten months of intensive chemotherapy and at the end of his journey, completed two years of physical therapy. In August of 2017, Felipe had surgery that replaced his knee and femur in his right leg. The family had to travel to Tampa for the surgery at John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Thankfully, the Runway to Hope Family Assistance Program was able to financially assist this family during treatment to help alleviate some of their financial burdens. Unfortunately, because of Felipe’s treatment, he was diagnosed with diabetes, which was another added stress to his journey.

Felipe hopes to walk again without limitation and finish his cancer journey to return to his life of friends, family and school. He enjoys watching soccer, listening to music, going to the theme parks, and playing xbox games. His mom describes him as a brave, calm, compassionate and happy young man and is proud of his accomplishments. Paula says Felipe is her hero! Felipe has recently picked up the guitar and is starting classes to play music. He hopes to one day become a doctor and play soccer again.

Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer, and accounts for about 3% of cancers that happen in children. Osteosarcoma usually develops from osteoblasts, the cells that make growing bone, it most commonly affects teens who are having a growth spurt. Scientists have not discovered the cause of most cases of osteosarcoma. Osteosarcoma can also develop as a result of radiation to an area of the body. It can be associated with specific genetic changes and diseases. When treated appropriately, patients with high grade osteosarcoma in one location have a survival rate of about 70%. The survival rate is higher for patients with low grade tumors, and it is lower for those whose disease has spread throughout the body and for those whose tumors have a poor response to chemotherapy.

Since Felipe’s diagnosis, the family celebrates different milestones than before. When they once celebrated soccer goals, they now celebrate him walking without assistance. The Runway to Hope team got to meet Felipe and some of his family at an Inpatient Craft Day at the hospital in 2017 and we enjoyed spending time with them. Felipe and his brother left a mark on our hearts. We also had the pleasure of seeing him at our Bloomingdale’s Orlando Bash weekend when he chose his outfit for the 2018 Spring Fashion Soiree. At that bash weekend, Felipe was able to take small steps outside of using his wheelchair and then three months later at the Spring Fashion Soiree, he was walking with confidence in cool style. We cannot wait to see Felipe thrive at our next Runway event!

Runway to Hope / 189 South Orange Avenue, Suite 1800 / Orlando, FL 32801 / 407.802.1544