The number 1,622 is written in big black letters on the side of 8-year-old Kamari Lucero’s head, a reminder of how many days he has been cancer-free.
Kamari, who is this year’s honored kid at the annual St. Baldrick’s charity event held at Santa Star Center, was left with a Mohawk after his head was shaved as a symbol of rehabilitation and the power of cancer treatment.
Kamari’s mother, Kimberly Lucero, looked on with a tear in her eye as her son prepared to join other donors to be shaved for the event.
It wasn’t long ago, Kimberly said, that her son’s future looked bleak at best.
Everything changed for Kimberly and her family on March 6, 2014, when they found out Kamari, her youngest of three children, was diagnosed with cancer.
“It was like a kick in the gut,” Kimberly said “I actually felt my heart break after hearing the news.”
Kamari was diagnosed with a malignant rhabdoid tumor on his chest wall and spine, which according to his mother was rare.
“One in a million kids is diagnosed with it and there are 20 diagnoses a year — and only 20 percent of these kids per year survive,” she said.
The first part of Kamari’s treatment began with a lot of chemotherapy; then he endured five weeks of radiation and then it’s been back to chemotherapy ever 28 days, Kimberly said.
“Most people have one chemo treatment; he had six and they are not approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration),” she said.
As a result of his treatments, Kamari has some hearing loss, suffers from tremors, and has neuropathy in his hands and his feet, which he takes medication for every day.
“The journey goes on, but we can deal with anything at this point,” Kimberly said, with an optimistic smile.
Kimberly said if Kamari makes it past five years in remission he is considered cured. At 1,623 days in remission by the time this story was written, that gives Kamari eight more months before he can claim that he is cured.
“For the other families out there, prayer and family support are important to make it through something like this,” Kimberly Lucero said. “I know we wouldn’t have made this far without either.”