Remembering Sonny and his battle with leukemia

IECN photo Manny B. Sandoval: Sonny at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital in 2003.
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The brightest smile, quirkiest laugh, and luminous brown eyes describe my little brother Sonny. His little heart is forever filled with love and a huge personality; always so talkative, mischievous, smart, but most of all, he was brave.

After weeks of hospital visits and being sent home numerous times, doctors finally caught it. On Jan. 16, 2003, Sonny was diagnosed with leukemia; three months after celebrating his third birthday.

He was treated at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital (LLUCH), where he received treatment for eight days, before being sent home due to the progress he was making.

In the meantime, Sonny was still up to his old tricks, having full-fledged conversations and playing, while adjusting to his life as a cancer patient.

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One night Sonny became very sick. He jumped out of bed (with his Spiderman slippers on) and ran to the bathroom, because he was throwing up. About an hour later Sonny was in an ambulance and rushed to LLUCH because his fingers and lips were turning blue. 

Before leaving his home, Sonny was talking and said, “I’m okay,” but after the 6-mile drive to the hospital, Sonny was no longer responsive. 

On Feb. 6, 2003, Sonny went to heaven. 

Doctors and nurses at LLUCH did everything they could to save Sonny; he passed away of an infection he quickly developed while battling leukemia, at the age of three. 

Sonny made a huge impact on my family’s and my lives.

At three years old, Sonny had his phone number memorized, his favorite color was blue, he loved visiting Las Vegas and wanted to be a “motorcycle guy” when he grew up. Spiderman was his favorite superhero and he loved the movie Shrek.

Although it’s been 16 years since Sonny’s passing, our family and friends continue to share funny stories and memories of him and he often comes up in conversation; because he talked like he was an adult. He truly lived an eventful life.

My family and I have been active members of the Childhood Cancer Foundation of Southern California (CCFSC) organization for over 16 years and we plan to keep the support going for many years to come. 

This year CCFSC is presenting its annual Childhood Cancer Kids Walk in memory of Sonny and he’ll be representing the childhood cancer community through promotional materials and the organizations website. 

I will forever use my voice and whatever platform I have to spread awareness about cancer and cancer organizations. 

Currently, the CCFSC has a Parent Pantry for parents staying bedside with their child as they receive treatment at the hospital. They need help from our communities to fill their food pantry with non-perishable food and snacks. Please contact the CCFSC at 558-3419 or for more information.

I love you Sonny, you will always be a part of me and in my heart forever. You inspire me every day.

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