Alex's Cancer Journey
Alex was diagnosed with a brain tumor on April 8, 2013. His only symptom was daily headaches. We learned that it was medulloblastoma, a grade IV brain tumor. It was completely resected/removed and Alex's prognosis was excellent, although the treatment would be difficult. After brain surgery, Alex had to learn to walk again, learn to hold a pencil again; he had weeks of physical, speech, and occupational therapy. He underwent 6 weeks of radiation and weekly chemo, followed by one year of grueling chemotherapy that caused numerous infections and maladies. One week before his final chemo was scheduled, a routine MRI detected a recurrence of his cancer, this time in his spine. He opted for a new protocol and undertook this new treatment with an abundance of hope, even though he knew that the odds were against him.
After his recurrence, we started a Facebook page called the Champ's Corner-Alex Muñoz ( Alex's nickname was Champ since he was a toddler), and our entire community and surrounding communities rallied to support him. Our family was set to participate in a local foundation's fundraiser, Kortney's Challenge, named after a child who had lost her battle to a brain tumor, to raise awareness and funds for pediatric brain tumors. We shared our family's efforts on the Champ's Corner. Donations and support began to pour in from across the country. Although he was in a wheelchair, Alex participated in the Kortney Rose Foundation's walk for pediatric brain tumors. That same night Alex had to be airlifted to CHOP because he had developed septic shock. Although he recovered, he never walked again. On September 29, 2014 a new MRI revealed our worst fears. The cancer had metastasized. Tumors were discovered in his spine, brain, and even in bone. Alex was released into hospice care.
We shared this devastating news and were deeply moved to see that "Team Alex" signs began to appear in our community. They were everywhere--aligning main roads, in front of houses, and in store windows. Team Alex support lit up church, school, and firehouse billboards. Alex's high school, led by Alex's dear friends Beky and Cole, demonstrated so much support and love, and even made an incredible video to let him know that he was in everyone's hearts. His middle school made a wonderful video as well. The high school, middle school, and grammar school all wore gray (for brain tumor awareness) for our Champ. Our local racetrack, Monmouth Park, even lit up their board in honor of Alex's fight. Our brave and sweet warrior, Alex, died from brain and spinal cancer on November 11, 2014 with his loving family surrounding him, just nine days before his seventeenth birthday. He never once asked "why me?” He was constantly worried about how his disease was affecting everyone he loved. He would take off his sweater during his chemo session to offer his mom because he saw that she was cold. He offered to rearrange the furniture in the hospital room so that his mother would be more comfortable and could have more space to sleep beside him, all while hooked up to his chemo medications. He never once complained despite debilitating nausea and unthinkable pain. He worried about his brothers, grandparents, and young friends when they would learn of his terminal diagnosis. His is a legacy of a life lived with love, passion, curiosity, selflessness, and true courage. Alex, our Champ, was truly the light of our lives, and will be forever remembered and forever loved.
"In a gentle way, you can shake the world."