Giving Hope to a Young Cancer Patient

Greater Washington D.C.  |  February 18, 2020

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In a Jing Si Aphorism, Dharma Master Cheng Yen once said: Love’s true power comes from its purity.” There can be no cause more pure than that of giving children a chance at life. And that’s exactly what we intend on doing for 9-year-old Alejandro Soto González.

Alejandro's Story

Alejandro Soto González and his mother Zaira arrive at the Johns Hopkins Hospital thanks to Tzu Chi volunteers. Photo provided by Tzu Chi USA Greater Washington DC Region

During the fall of 2019, Alejandro Soto González was visiting the US with his mother Zaira and older brother Javier from Guatemala. They were staying with his uncle, Mario González, his wife, and their two children.

In October, Alejandro fainted and was taken to a nearby hospital in Maryland. Doctors and medical staff then sent him to the Johns Hopkins Hospital, where, on October 23, he was diagnosed with a very rare brain cancer known as primary intracranial sarcoma. Alejandro was operated on the very next day – only for another tumor to develop shortly after.

Unprepared to stay in the United States and to cover such a complicated operation and course of treatment for her son, Zaira received an incredible gesture from Johns Hopkins: 

The hospital performed Alejandro’s surgery for free and will cover the costs of his chemotherapy and radiation therapy as they roll out.

Tzu Chi volunteers Frank Chen & his wife Sue visited the family for the first time on January 10. In the photo on the right, Andrea Barrera, Community School Coordinator Supervisor from the YMCA Youth & Family Services’ Linkages to Learning program at JoAnn Leleck at BAES (middle), stands proudly with the family as they receive their first cash card from Tzu Chi, worth $300

Still, the family needs help

Zaira has a thyroid condition that requires frequent medication. On top of that, she is unable to work under her current visa nor generate new income. What’s more, Alejandro’s uncle Mario, who the family has been staying with in Silver Spring, Maryland, only makes just enough to keep himself and his family afloat.

As his treatments continue, the children have enrolled at JoAnn Leleck Elementary school and the family’s visas also need an extension. Luckily, the YMCA Youth & Family Services’ Linkages to Learning program at JoAnn Leleck at BAES is helping Zaira and her family make the arrangements- and were the ones to help connect them to Tzu Chi volunteers from the Greater Washington DC Regional Office for help.

On January 10, 2020, Tzu Chi volunteers Frank and Sue Chen paid the family a visit at their uncle’s home in Silver Spring. After learning more about the family’s situation, Frank Chen, Executive Director of Tzu Chi’s Greater Washington DC Region, and volunteers Joan Huang and Dr. Hiro Huang visited them the following day, too. Dr. Huang also administered Zaira a flu shot to keep her healthy through the rest of the flu season.

They learned Alejandro would receive treatment every weekday, Monday to Friday, till the end of February at Johns Hopkins. From March till the fall, the schedule would change to twice a week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Understanding that transportation would be difficult for the family to manage so frequently, Tzu Chi volunteers are calling for donations that will cover one-way carfare to the hospital for Alejandro and his mom (estimated at $50). Mario, Alejandro’s uncle, will be able to pick him up after his nephew’s appointment ends and his own workday finishes.

Rides courtesy of Tzu Chi volunteers have already begun

Frank Chen and his wife personally giving them the first one on February 17. Another Tzu Chi volunteer donated a laptop to the family to help the children with their schoolwork and after-school tutoring. Finally, Tzu Chi is giving the family a monthly cash card worth $300 to help them pay off their most pressing expenses and so much more.

Tzu Chi volunteers Suching Chen and her husband Frank arrive at Alejandro’s residence in Silver Spring, MD, to drive him, his mother Zaira, and brother Javier for the first time to the Johns Hopkins Hospital on February 17. Photo provided by Tzu Chi USA Greater Washington DC Region

With your support, we can help Alejandro get access to the world’s best medical care, all for free, and live a fulfilling life that is filled with the compassion and love of good samaritans just like you.

In fact, see this special message from Alejandro and Zaira themselves!

Play Video

Sign up to give Alejandro a ride to the hospital:

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Please make a charitable contribution to help make sure they can safely reach their destination every time.

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