“Dariel never lost his smile.”

- Dariel’s Mother, Yalitza

Meet Dariel! This spunky eight-year-old has had a rough start to his childhood. When he was just three years old, he suffered from several throat infections, which led to loss of appetite, an everlasting fever, and several antibiotics to remove the infection. After four months of different oral antibiotics, doctors decided to remove his adenoids. Unfortunately, this did not help his symptoms, so doctors then removed his tonsils. Dariel’s symptoms still persisted. In November of 2013, his medical team decided to get an MRI of his throat to take a closer look and the results showed that his throat was filled with tumors. Dariel’s mother says, “That was the worst day ever; my whole world fell down.” On November 12, 2013, Dariel was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and shortly after his diagnosis, he had surgery to add his port for treatment.

After completing rounds of chemotherapy, Dariel and his family traveled to Jacksonville for 44 days for a treatment plan that consisted of 28 days of proton therapy. Proton Therapy is a type of radiation treatment that uses protons to treat cancer. A proton is positively charged particle and at high energy can destroy cancer cells. Some advantages of proton therapy is that it can target the tumor while sparing the surrounding normal tissues. Even though the surrounding areas are not highly impacted, proton therapy can still cause side effects including: fatigue, digestive issues, headaches, as well as hair loss, skin redness and soreness around the part of the body being treated. During this treatment, Dariel had to be fed by a tube in his stomach due to his treatment being administered directly to his throat.

Thankfully Dariel is in his third year of remission without recurrence and that is wonderful news! However, something to acknowledge is that Dariel will have to deal with side effects for the rest of his life. Due to the strong radiation used in his treatment plan, his thyroid does not work properly and he will require medication for the rest of his life. He also has psychological therapy twice a month and speech therapy twice a week.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, also known as NHL, or sometimes just lymphoma, is a cancer that starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are part of the body’s immune system. Lymph tissue is found in many places throughout the body, so lymphomas can start almost anywhere. Researchers have found that non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is linked with a number of risk factors, but the cause of most lymphomas is not known. About 5% of all childhood cancers are non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. This type of cancer is two to three times more common in boys than in girls. Overall, the risk in children increases with age. It can occur at any age, but is uncommon in children younger than 3.

Throughout this whole stage in his life, Dariel never lost his smile. He kept his strength up and loved to play and make others smile. He has a very strong sense of character and never lost his tenderness towards his family, sister, and friends. Dariel loves to play with legos and is a super fan of minecraft. His family is very supportive and a strong family unit! Dariel hopes to become a firefighter, but for now he is a happy second grader who loves batman and lego movies!

Dariel has walked the runway stage three times and we are very excited for him to return next year on May 19th, 2018! His family is always very grateful for this night of fun and excitement! Dariel loves to play games with kids just like him in the green room and to hang out with the characters! Our team here at Runway to Hope looks forward to seeing him shine onstage and off.

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