Amid leukemia, he dreamed of being a VIP. On Tuesday, his wish came true
Jesus Orozco-Vasquez fell ill at age 4 and took years to recover. On Tuesday, he got to be a security chief, an astronaut and a VIP at The Gardens Mall.
PALM BEACH GARDENS – Nothing could prevent Jesus Orozco-Vasquez from having his lifelong wish granted – not his age, not COVID, not even his past cancer diagnosis – but he had no clue.
The 10-year-old-boy has long dreamed about being a famous police officer and receiving the ultimate A-list celebrity treatment. But his 2015 diagnosis of high-risk leukemia and the 2020 COVID-19 global shutdown put those hopes on hold.
Joana Orozco, 24, has been anticipating this day for over a year. She says with all of the challenges that her brother’s diagnosis has brought, there was a point where she didn’t think his wish would ever be fulfilled.
“During that time was the most difficult thing our family ever went through. Emotionally, we were just all over the place, mentally as well,” she said. “We didn’t even bother to think of a wish. We didn’t even think we would have that possibility.”
PBSO, Martin sheriffs offer limousine escort to Gardens Mall
The nonprofit Children’s Wish Foundation has granted these wishes since 1985, helping severely ill children experience life to the fullest.
To his surprise, more than 30 deputies from the Palm Beach and Martin County sheriff’s offices escorted him and his family by motorcycle from their home in Stuart to the mall motorcade-style as they rode in a limousine.
Upon his arrival, mall security and the “Secret Service” – well, the mall’s security dressed up in all black – lined the entryway, applauding and cheering as he made his way into the building. His smile and leaps of joy foreshadowed the events to come.
Jesus was made head of mall security and given a security hat to make the promotion official. His first order of business involved heading to the Command Center, where he had the opportunity to dispatch calls and watch the video footage of his arrival.
Then his job was temporarily switched. He became an astronaut at the mall’s latest space exhibit, Out of This World, where he received a private tour.
After traveling through space and visiting many planets with his imagination, he worked up an appetite for Shake Shack, where he dined on an avocado bacon burger with fries and a strawberry lemonade.
He wrapped the trip by visiting stores to collect special gifts and went on a shopping spree with his family.
Leukemia strikes many children and teens
Leukemia is a cancerous condition that affects the body’s blood-forming tissues, such as the bone marrow and lymphatic nodes, and results in a rise in abnormal white blood cells.
Nearly one in three cases of this cancer are diagnosed in children and teens. The most common leukemia found in children is acute lymphocytic leukemia, which Orozco-Vasquez had. He is the only person in his family to have had cancer.
Even though his illness is in the past, it is difficult for his family to forget the pain he went through. Despite his weakest moments, Jesus’ older brother believes he was taught to be a stronger person because of him.
“As far as I know, my little brother is stronger than me because he’s gone through all of that, but he is still up and going,” Pedro Orozco-Vasquez said. “He’s still going around, still playing, still smiling. He’s teaching me to be mentally strong.”
In the moments that the family was not their strongest, they relied heavily on their faith and prayers to get them through each day, especially Jesus’ mom.
“We’ve overcome everything because we all have faith in God,” Isabel Orozco-Vasquez said in Spanish, with Pedro translating. “I pray that this cancer never comes back or gets near him again.”
She says that while she is sorry that her son has had to suffer so much, and that she fears his cancer has a chance of coming back someday, she is grateful that she gets to spend special moments with Jesus like she did Tuesday and this past Sunday.
On Mother’s Day, Jesus, who rarely speaks, gave his mom one of the sweetest gifts she could ever ask for: a hug and an “I love you, mommy.”
“I wish that Jesus never has to worry about his cancer returning and to do whatever in life he wants to do.”