RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) — Omar Fernandez of Pharr has been battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia since 2017. He was diagnosed at the age of 13 and began treatment at the Vannie E. Cook Clinic in McAllen.
In March 2020, Omar suffered a relapse and had to prepare for a bone marrow transplant, which he received at Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital. Since the transplant on June 19, 2020, he’s remained in Houston.
According to his parents, his health has suffered many ups and downs and the most recent setback is a surgery he underwent a few weeks ago. He is battling a fungus in his lungs.
However, they are hopeful for a full recovery and say they’re thankful to have a strong support system, including the team at the children’s cancer nonprofit SuperRami & Friends.
Having gone through multiple treatments and surgeries over the past year, Omar’s mother, Maria Fernandez, said she tries to help other parents she meets.
“When we first started, we felt we didn’t have anyone to ask any questions to,” Maria said. “ We were scared; we were lost. So, when I see a mom or a dad crying – that anguish, that pain — I tell them some of the things Omar experienced so they know they’re not alone and there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
Omar’s father, Omar Sr., agreed and said praying and leaning on one another is what gets them through.
“It may not be as soon as we want it to be, but we keep our faith that it will happen in God’s timing,” Omar Sr. Said. “Just keep the faith and pray— that’s what helped us a lot.”
While the hospital stay has taken a toll on his body and led to muscle deterioration, Omar keeps fighting and with the help of physical therapy is slowly regaining his strength.
“I try to get out of bed and stand up to get my thighs and leg muscles back to where they need to be,” he said. “It’s a little painful, but I still want to do it just to try to get the heck out of here.”
Omar said once he’s able to return home to the RGV, he looks forward to reuniting with his friends at SuperRami and just being a normal teenager.
The Fernandezes are asking the community to celebrate Omar’s one-year bone marrow transplant, or rebirth, with them by sending birthday cards and letters to the hospital. Some of his interests include D.C. superheroes, Harry Potter, and Star Wars, and the tv show, “The Inbetweeners.”
Cards can be mailed to the Texas Children’s Hospital located at 6621 Fannin St. Houston, TX 77030 West Tower Room 709.