Three-year-old Tatiana and her mom, Juana, like to eat, cook, and watch movies together. Her favorite toys are Minnie Mouse, Frozen, and unicorns. She enjoys watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Minnie Mouse. Her favorite foods? Beans, all kinds of berries (black berries, blue berries, raspberries, and strawberries…), tamales, chicken nuggets, cheese, chocolate, chips, water and almond milk. Tatiana might be a future bookworm; For now she’s content to look at books.
Wilms Tumor Diagnosis
Her mom, Juana, recalls the progression of events surrounding her cancer diagnosis that in the blink of an eye, changed their family forever,
“Tatiana started to get sick on September 11, 2021. She started running fevers on and off, saying that her tummy hurt and vomiting a couple of times. By September 22 she was in a lot of pain. She would not stop crying, holding her tummy and saying that it hurt. So, while at work, I called her pediatrician and made an appointment for September 22. When he evaluated her, his initial thought was that because her stomach was tender to the touch, sensitive and extended, she had appendicitis. He sent us to the ER at Randall Children’s Hospital for bloodwork, x-rays, and an ultrasound to find why she was in so much pain. We arrived at the hospital a little past 8:00pm on the 22nd. Around 4:00am on the 23rd of September, they told us she was being admitted. She had a tumor the size of a grapefruit. They did a CT and MRI later that day and confirmed she had Wilms tumor.” Wilms Tumor is a type of childhood cancer that starts in the kidneys.
The Santillan Family
The youngest of 3 kids, Tatiana lives with her mom (Juana), dad (Daniel), and older siblings Giovanni and Daniela. When asked how cancer changed their lives, Juana says, “Her diagnosis has affected the whole family. I stopped working to stay home and take care of her because she is immunocompromised. My husband is working longer days and more to make up economically. Giovanni and Daniela have become more aware of what cancer is. For the most part they are more loving and attentive to her and try to shower her with love. We have drawn closer to God and know he is the ultimate healer and source of strength for us as well as the love and support from friends and family.”
Sundays are particularly special for the family, as they attend mass together weekly.
Asked what Tatian’s favorite thing about Candlelighters has been so far, Juana says it was Candy Cane Lane – and coming face to face with some special characters, “I think her favorite thing about Candy Cane Lane was getting to see Elsa and take a picture with her. She loved seeing Santa and then coming home to open her gifts.”
Advice & Priorities
For the family of five, there have been many adjustments that came with a cancer diagnosis. Still, Jauna says that it has “made us slow down and appreciate life and it’s blessings more closely.” Her advice to other families facing a pediatric cancer diagnosis? “Focus on the positives, and make sure to not live in fear…I have always believed God is in control. We cannot control life and its outcomes. We can only control our thoughts, beliefs and emotions.” Juana’s first priority is her daughter’s care, and she is creating the most loving and comforting environment for her to flourish!