I'm Cristian, a young 15 year old who hasn't even seen the world yet. In 2014, I was diagnosed with leukemia and it was hard on my parents. From that day, I knew God was with me. I was the only one in the room who didn't cry when the doctors gave us the news, I was very calm. From that point on, my faith was tested not once, but twice when I came out victorious after beating cancer twice. And now for a third time I'm fighting for my life… I have learned so much from just laying in my hospital bed, when in actuality I would rather be around a desk in a classroom. Being here in the hospital you actually have time to open your eyes and appreciate the little things that happen around you. You are able to figure out things and understand why they are happening in the way that they are. Your answers to life are unfolding right before your eyes. I have changed for the better and I'm trying to be more Christ-like…
~ Cristian Tobar
On April 4th, Mary and I travelled to St. Raymond’s High School for Boys to meet a very important person. Greeted by Mike McCauley, counselor in the school, we were welcomed with open arms. Our mission was to meet Cristian Tobar, an amazing young boy who is battling leukemia for the third time since being diagnosed in 2014.
We had heard so much about this strong, inspirational boy, so we knew what to expect. However, upon meeting Cristian, our perception was blown out of the water. There we sat with a boy of 15 years speaking so eloquently and wisely you would think he was 15 years older. We were deeply humbled and moved by Cristian. His calm and collected demeanor, along with his brave attitude, consumed us as we sat for over an hour talking about his journey so far.
Cristian’s love for his family and friends came across strongly as he talked so proudly about them with us. This love was truly shown through Cristian’s Make a Wish request. Make a Wish Foundation has five major wish request categories: I wish to go…, I wish to be…, I wish to meet…, I wish to have…, and I wish to give. Cristian’s wish was to go to Shake Shack with his family. After this, he went on a shopping spree to buy his parents, younger sister and new baby brother some of the things that they really wished for, but could never afford. He could have gone to Disney land and beyond, but instead chose to spend a day with his family and get them gifts by which to remember him. We were all deeply moved by this touching and selfless wish. It is truly heartwarming.
Everyone at NYU Rusk Rehabilitation Center, where he was treated at the start of 2016, noticed Cristian’s personality and kind nature.
Arielle Bonne, Senior Social Worker AT RUSK, recalls:
"As soon as our team at Rusk met Cristian, we all knew immediately that he was an amazing person. For weeks after his admission, other staff were coming up to me and recounting conversations they had had with Cristian, all evidencing how smart, mature and kind he is. Although it has become a bit of a cliché for us as hospital staff to say that we are privileged to care for our patients, I know in the case of Cristian that is truly how we all felt. Shortly after meeting Cristian’s family, I learned that they had not been referred to any community agencies. I immediately thought of the Frances Pope Foundation and what a service it would be to the family during this time of crisis. When I told Cristian’s mom the good news that Frances Pope would be able to help them, she began crying. Cristian’s family had been coping with his illness for over a year on their own. No doubt Cristian’s own bravery and the family’s resilience sustained them through that period, but I was so happy to be able to connect them to the support and help of Frances Pope. I’ll never forget all that they did to help this wonderful boy and his family, and I know for certain they won’t, either."
Cristian's story is a wonderful reminder to us all of the importance of our mission to help others -- as a foundation, as a community and as individuals.
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