BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — “As a parent you cannot do anything, you know, but bring them to the hospital,” Karina Ortiz said.
Which is exactly what the Bentonville mother did in May of 2019, when she noticed her son Joshua Ortiz had lost weight, much of his apatite and had skin discoloration.
Pediatric doctors ran initial tests on the then 6-year-old at Arkansas Children’s Northwest in Springdale before he was taken by ambulance to Arkansas Children’s in Little Rock.
“It was really shocking cause, I mean, it is shocking, you know, its cancer,” Karina said.
Dr. Robert Saylors, Chief of Oncology at ACNW said, “at any one time we have about 25 or 30 children with this disease under treatment here at our hospital.”
According to the oncologist, this is the most common type of childhood cancer. He said treatment is fairly intensive for the first 7 to 8 months.
Unfortunately for Joshua, his little body didn’t always react well to many of the medications being used on him to fight the disease.
“Joshua required a lot of really aggressive chemotherapy, spent a lot of time in the hospital, a few pretty dramatic times pretty ill,” Dr. Saylors recalled.
As Karina thought back to when he was first diagnosed, she recalled just how tough it was to see Joshua battle the sickness.
“[It’s] extremely amazing how all those medicines affect little kid’s bodies,” Dr. Saylors said.
While Dr. Saylors said Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia was once was a death sentence now, with proper treatment, there’s a 96% survival rate.
More than a year into his diagnosis, the now 7-year-old is in remission and is expected to make a full recovery.
“We fully expect him to be cured at the end of his treatment.”Dr. Robert Saylors
Until he’s deemed cancer-free, Joshua will have his blood counts checked once a week, he’ll continue taking chemo pills nightly and will visit Dr. Saylor for exams once a month.
Though he still has a while to go in his cancer journey, he’ll have people, like Dr. Saylors, who will continue to champion for his recovery.
Through the care he’s provided Joshua, Dr. Saylors has not only extended Joshua’s lifespan, but he has created a lifelong bond with the Ortiz family.
“He loves Dr. Saylors a lot,” Karina continued, “they mean so much to us, like, they are angels.”Karina Ortiz
“They’re just wonderful people and I can’t tell you how much we love them here,” Dr. Saylors said.
It’s personalized care like this from the staff at ACH and ACNW that has made an otherwise scary time much more manageable.
“I’m not thankful for cancer but I’m thankful for the experience and the opportunity to be treated at a really good hospital,” Karina said.