Alexander Galindo, an active 7-year-old La Jolla resident and student at Francis Parker School in San Diego, wants to be a doctor.
“I want to check people and make sure they are good,” he said. “I want to learn things that doctors talk about because when they say things I don’t know what it means.”
But he knows plenty already—as a cancer survivor.
Alexander, a Taekwondo enthusiast, isn’t shy about his past. He proudly shows off his scars from the portacath and talks about the medicine that he refers to as “magic.”
In fact, when Alexander attended his first day of school this week, he told his teacher, “I don’t have cancer anymore. I beat it.”
Alexander was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at just 2 years, 9 months, but went through his last phase of chemotherapy in August 2011. Last month was the first month he didn’t have to go to the hospital for a checkup.
“I like being a survivor,” he said. “I’m glad I’m not really tired anymore.”
Alexander is now an Honored Hero by the The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which will have a kickoff luncheon on Friday at SDG&E’s Energy Innovation Center for its annual Light The Night Walk. The Walk will take place on Nov. 2 at Petco Park.
But the journey was a long and at times a “horrible” one, said mother Jeanne Conner.
Conner said when Alexander was just 2, she knew something was wrong with her son. She took him to several doctors who simply took X-rays and told her he was fine.
“I finally said, ‘No, he’s not fine. There’s something wrong with him. I really need you to take his blood,’’’ she said. “They called me that night and said he had leukemia and that I needed to pack my bag and go to the ER.”
Conner said Alexander spent the night at the hospital more than 60 times during his chemotherapy treatments.
“I cried a lot. I didn’t like getting sick. I didn’t like to cough or sneeze. I was really tired,” Alexander said. “I didn’t know cancer could make you sick but then my mom told me what it was really was and I didn’t want it.”
“He did really well,” she said. “He loves seeing the nurses, and he likes the medicine they give him. He calls it ‘magic.’”
But the medicine was only an ounce of the “magic” cure. Conner said the family’s involvement with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society helped with their frame of mind. She said the family took part in their first Light The Night Walk when Alexander was 4.
“We did his first Light The Night Walk with his preschool and they named their team The Superheroes,” she said. “That is just one of the reasons that he’s a survivor—the mentality that he’s a superhero and can survive and he just stuck with it.
“It’s a way to a put a positive light on the situation and he really liked raising money. He would say ‘I want to raise money for better medicines.’”
For Alexander, the walks calmed him too.
“I really like the Walk,” he said. “The Walk makes you feel calm and you don’t scream because when the cancer hurts you cry and scream.”
As the family celebrates the one-year anniversary of Alexander’s last chemotherapy treatment, Conner said the fear remains that the cancer could come back.
But she stays positive.
And for Alexander, he’s living life. Alexander said he enjoys playing sports and video games—and hopes to one day be a doctor.
For more information about Friday's kickoff luncheon and the Light The Night Walk, visit Lightthenight.org/sd/.