HOUSTON – At 10 years old, Joey Santiago never realized how tough he was until being strong was the only choice he had.
In June 2017, he began a long and difficult fight, battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects his white blood cells. Santiago started maintenance therapy in April, but in October he relapsed and the cancer is now in his spine.
“He is making friends in the hospital, which is not what you'd really expect, but because of those friends he's upbeat, he's happy he is out playing and being a kid,” said his mom, Jillian Presley.
Santiago’s mom has been chronicling her son’s journey back to health through social media. She created a Facebook page, calling it “Warriors for Joey,” asking for prayers and help. With long regularly scheduled hospital stays, coupled with the cost of the new treatment, expenses for the family are mounting.
The Facebook page has more than 900 likes.
Santiago has been overwhelmed by all the words of encouragement. One in particular really made his day. Rapper Paul Wall made a video and sent it to the family. Jillian Presley shared it on social media.
“It makes you feel good. It makes you feel special. That's definitely how he feels. This child was so excited. He has watched that video so many times, he made his own video back to Paul,” Presley said.
Santiago is set to undergo a bone marrow transplant on Jan. 17.