MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Each year, the Texas Department of State Health and Human Services states that over 1,800 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer.

ValleyCentral spoke to Yadhira Huerta a pediatric oncology social worker at the Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children’s Clinic in McAllen. She helps cancer patients everyday and is now dealing with her own family diagnosis.

“Despite almost 17 years that I had been working as a pediatric oncology social worker, I can tell you that none of those years had prepared me to be the mother of a child with cancer,” she said. 

Huerta said her son Diego was diagnosed with leukemia at age 13. The news was a sudden shock to her family as she describes her son as an active boy.  

“One day all of a sudden he’s struggling to exercise, struggling to breathe, I didn’t think much of it,” she said. “I obviously didn’t think it was cancer but when my husband took him to the doctor, we got the news that he was going to have to see the doctor that I work with and that was an eye opener for me.”

Huerta said cancer does not discriminate and encourages parents to be mindful of how children are feeling. 

“I do think that we need to listen to our children, if they complain about something or they are not acting like themselves just take them to their pediatrician, to their family doctor and have them seen,” she said.

According to Huerta, access to treatment can be a challenge and is grateful her son is receiving the proper care he needs. 

She hopes Diego’s story will help bring more awareness to childhood cancer.