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Five-year-old cancer victim leaves a memorable journey


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Five-year-old cancer victim leaves a memorable journey

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August 12, 2008 - 7:03PM



He fought liver and then lung cancer since he was diagnosed at age 3, found hope, braved sickness with a smile, and after two years he was finally on the road to recovery.

Then the unexpected happened.

Hope quickly turned to grief for the loved ones of 5-year-old Dominik Navarro.

On July 30, a sudden series of seizures occurred. The seizures were caused by two brain tumors that were not discovered until then.

By then it was too late. Dominik died the next day.

Doctors did all that was medically possible to save him, Navarro’s aunt, Yolanda Guyer, said.

“He had beat it before,” she said. “He was a fighter. He was going to win. So we didn’t know where this came from,”

“Of course we weren’t ready to give him up and we were fighting. And here comes the curve ball and they tell us there’s two tumors in his brain.

“He was always under machines so we don’t know why they didn’t find [the tumors] before. There’s just so many questions when something like this happens,” she said.

By Tuesday, he was acting strange, Guyer said. By then Dominik was calling his mom, “Dad.”

“He was lost,” Guyer said.

By Wednesday, “he was just having seizure after seizure — all the way to the CAT scan room,” she said.

By Thursday he was put on life support.

A priest came in to pray with him at 1:30 p.m. and shortly after, he was unhooked from the ventilator and the family received news he had died.

Dominik underwent a journey of ups and downs since he was diagnosed in January of 2007. He was misdiagnosed at first — with the stomach flu — when he visited the local doctor. He was prescribed medication, and it worked for a short while.

Then his condition became worse.

He was taken to the Valley Children’s Hospital to have tests run. The tests revealed he had a tumor on his liver, a cancerous disease known as hapatoblastoma.

By then, he was already in stage three of his sickness.

However, Dominik received surgery in April of that year, and the tumor was removed successfully. He was taken off chemotherapy a few months later, according to Guyer, and his family was confident he would make it through.

Then, in May 2008, a follow-up appointment revealed two more spots on his lung. He was put back on chemotherapy, and was later able to have one spot surgically removed. The other would have been too dangerous to remove, Guyer said.

But he has been on chemotherapy, since May, smiling, spreading the hope that he would win the battle.

Dominik’s family and friends sought ways to raise money for his medical expenses.

While pregnant with her second child, Navarro’s mom, Lucy Agundis, sold cookies. She did this and other fundraisers to save the umbilical chord of Dominik’s new born sister, Serenity, now 3 months. A doctor gave her the suggestion that it could help him.

“The way that it was going — from a tumor on his liver to two on his lungs — we were worried that it would spread [to his bloodstream],” Guyer said.

Agundis, with plenty of help, managed to raise enough money to save the blood of the umbilical chord in case that occurred.

The state hospital pitched in, baking and selling cakes for the cause.

The preschool Dominik attended, Happy Hearts Children’s Center, also helped to raise funds. The children held a trike-a-thon through a program at the St. Jude Children’s Hospital for cancer research. The kids rode laps on their bicycles and obtained sponsorships for each lap.

They collectively raised $1,841.50.

Holly Olivera, owner of the day-care center, said Dominik had many friends. He only went to the center temporarily, but he will leave a lasting impression.

“He was very quiet but a fun-loving, affectionate boy,” Olivera said. “Just to see that glow and that smile made you know he was on the road to recovery.”

Guyer said, by meeting Dominik, one would not be able to tell he was suffering from cancer.

“He had a smile that could light up the room,” Guyer said. “He was happy, he was funny, he was a little joker. His latest craze was Wally. He loved the Transformers, he loved Spongebob. He was full of life, always wanted to play and wrestle. As far as his spirit, he was happy.”

However, Dominik’s medical bill promises to be high. Dominik’s mother is unemployed at this time and taking care of her newborn child, Serenity.

Olivera feels the family could use any support at this time. “If it’s not through donations, just through phone calls — generous support calling,” she said.

Anyone wanting to offer support may contact Yolanda Guyer at 920-8607.

-- Contact Sabrina Ziegler at 784-5000, Ext. 1045, or sziegler@portervillerecorder.com.

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