The Cardona family seeks community support for 6-year-old, Isaias, in dealing with a 3-year battle with cancer.
When he was three-years-old, Isaias Cardona was diagnosed with leukemia cancer. Now, at the age of six, he continues to fight an exhausting battle with the disease, along with his family from Pratt.
Isaias was cancer-free for about three months and the Cardona family celebrated and were grateful for his health. But things took a turn for the worse earlier this year when Isaias was tested again and the cancer was back, even stronger.
Cardona has been admitted to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City where he will stay with his mom for the next 6 to 12 months for treatments and medical supervision while his father and siblings have to stay in Pratt to continue working, attending school and paying the bills.
After doubling the dosage of chemotherapy, doctors determined the treatment was not working as effectively, so they recommended a bone marrow transplant instead.
Brandon Cardona, Pratt High freshman and brother to Isaias, recently underwent surgery to donate bone marrow to the six- year old. The whole family went through blood testing to see if anyone was a match to donate and Brandon was the only compatible donor.
“We were very happy it was him because he’s very healthy—like, he doesn’t drink any soda, no juice— he drinks all water,” said Marlene Cardona, Pratt High junior and sister to Isaias. “He used to do weights and go to the gym but he was the one who donated bone marrow for Isaias and that’s the only thing that they said could help him.”
On August 13, Isaias was put into intensive care in the hospital—on his birthday—and then on August 23, the day of Isaias’ trans- plant, it was his father’s birthday, so two days that would normally be happy were filled with worry and fear for the family, Marlene said.
Marlene said she has had to grow up very quickly throughout this difficult time, deciding to help her dad, Luis--who has to work from morning to evening— to take care of her younger siblings while her mom and little brother are away in Kansas City.
In addition to working a job at El Dos De Oros and being a full-time high school student with homework and academic responsibilities, Cardona uses part of her paychecks to help her family pay bills and she dedicates her time to making sure her siblings, Brandon and Sarai, succeed in school by helping them with their homework.
“I guess I could say I’m kind of the second mom because I have to clean everything and I try to do the dishes, and I try to do two piles of laundry a day so everything won’t get overloaded and everything,” Marlene said. “My dad just left today at 9, so it’s just tomorrow that I have to make sure we all get to school and everything.”
Marlene enjoys volunteering as a translator for Spanish and increasing her fluency in Portuguese when she is not working, and in the future, Marlene would like to work as an interpreter.
Her father--Luis--is also a pastor in Pratt at the Church of Christ, delivering services in Spanish and working hard to support the family financially through his work.
With Kansas City being four hours away from Pratt, Luis will be able to visit his wife and son every weekend but Isaias’ siblings will only be able to visit him in the hospital once a month.
“My parents try to stick together and they always try to help each other out,” Marlene said.
The Cardona family has lived and worked in Pratt for around 11 years.
Marlene said the family was hesitant to ask the community for help because they hoped to figure it out on their own and do not like having to ask for donations but with so much tension on the family with financial strain and constant worry, the family decided to bring their struggles public.
“We decided that it was okay to let people know what we were going through because shutting yourself out from the world and trying to seem okay without telling anyone what you’re going through—it doesn’t really work,” Marlene said. “If they don’t see my mom here, if they don’t see my brother here, and if we don’t go out much--Pratt is small, everyone finds out everything.”
Cinthia Ramirez, sister to Isaias, has been helping as much as she can too, Marlene said, but she has her own children to take care of so it is difficult.
“We’ve always been a united family and this just brings us closer,” Marlene said.
A website-- https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/zv3zmy --has been set up so that people who are interested in helping can sign up to bring food for the family.
While Marlene said their favorite types of food are Mexican dishes, she said they are grateful for any and all support and will happily eat whatever meals people would like to bring, excluding seafood due to allergies.
“Everyone that’s brought meals, they have been really good and we really appreciate it and everything,” Marlene said. “All the teachers that have brought us stuff, we really appreciate it.”