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Fundraiser for 2-year-old with rare cancer
A 2-year-old Yuma boy is battling Wilm's tumor, a kidney cancer so rare that only a few hundred cases are diagnosed annually in the United States.
It is even rarer for the cancer to appear in both kidneys, which is the case with Daniel "Danny" Jesus Murrieta.
The cancer is painless and Danny's mom, Sonia Leon, only learned her son had cancer by chance in September, said Imelda Gonzalez, the boy's aunt and godmother.
"My sister was playing with him and felt his right side, it was harder than his left side," Gonzalez said. "She called the pediatrician and took him in for a checkup. The day after he was in Phoenix."
Danny received chemotherapy from September through February and then had surgery this month to remove the tumors. He still has weekly chemotherapy sessions at Phoenix Children's Hospital.
"He knows he is sick," Gonzalez said. "He'll go up to you and say, 'Tengo un coco' ('I have an ouchie') and he shows you the scar on his stomach."
Nevertheless, she said, Danny loves to smile. "He gives us the strength," his aunt said.
As for her sister, "she's hanging in there. She's much better now that he's had the tumors removed," Gonzalez said. "She has a lot of faith."
Danny lives in Yuma with his mother and 5-year-old brother, Angel. Leon is unemployed and Danny's dad, Daniel Murrieta, lives in Mexico.
When Murrieta found out his son was sick, Gonzalez said, he crossed the border illegally to be with him. He was caught and jailed until he was deported back to Mexico this month.
While Danny's treatment is being covered by Arizona's Medicaid program (AHCCCS) and the American Cancer Society has helped the family with lodging during surgery, the family needs financial assistance for other expenses related to Danny's treatment, Gonzalez said.
Family and friends are holding a benefit dinner Sunday. They will be cooking and offering birria, rice, beans and rolls for $7.50 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Eagles Hall, 225 S. 1st Ave. There will also be raffles, including one for a 22-inch flat-screen television at $5 per ticket, a silent auction and a cake walk.
The family set up a bank account for donations at AEA Federal Credit Union in Yuma.
Louise Jacobsen of the American Cancer Society Cancer Resource Center in Yuma confirmed that Danny is under care for cancer of the kidneys.
"I know that any contribution that you can offer will be greatly appreciated by the family," Jacobsen said in a letter sent out to potential contributors.
For more information on the benefit dinner or to donate, call Gonzalez at 446-5339.