Apr 14, 2013 7:39 PM by Jessica Holley - firstname.lastname@example.org
CORPUS CHRISTI - It's been a long journey for one 11-year-old boy diagnosed two years ago with an aggressive form of lymphoma. He now is in remission thanks to a new study drug and donations from the community offsetting some of his medical costs .
When Zachary Portillo was just nine years old doctors diagnosed him with stage 3 Anaplastic Large T Cell Lymphoma. Doctors treated it with chemotherapy, but by last September his cancer returned this time at a more aggressive rate.
Zachary and his family live in Hutto, just outside Austin. But 250 miles south in Corpus Christi his family helps to gather donations for all his medical costs.
"Even if they don't know Zachary, even if it's her coworkers, just people that have never met him before they want to contribute. They want to help," says Zachary's aunt Christina Gonzales.
Over the last two years the community has donated close to $50,000 to Zachary.
"The minute we mention a child and his age and how many years he's been battling it and how much he's had to endure people immediately want to do something for him," says Cora Pena,Zachary's grandmother.
"I haven't even thought about those expenses, and I haven't had to because every time that an expense comes up everybody in Corpus in my hometown has rallied together," says his mother Melissa Portillo.
Together with the community's donations the family has been able to offset some of Zachary's medical costs and been able to afford costs associated with a study drug called Crizotinib. He is one of 200 patients nationwide on this medication. The FDA approved drug helps to treat lung cancer and they are now looking to see if it'll treat other types of cancer.
In less than a month of taking that drug, doctors say Zachary's tumors were barely there and after two months they disappeared.
"It's just been a miracle the way everything has worked out," says Melissa Portillo.
While Zachary continues to battle his cancer Corpus Christi continues to support him through donations helping the family through this difficult time.