18-year-old Bryan man fighting Leukemia, diagnosed three times with COVID-19

BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) – Bryan’s husband is fighting for his life while battling leukemia at a Houston hospital.

Kathie Mendez says her son Gabriel Garcia, 18, was diagnosed last year after showing symptoms of being very ill.

“It was November 9, and we’re going to the doctor because we thought it was COVID-19,” Mendez said. “They drew blood and noticed that his white blood cells were three times more than they should be.”

After a few more tests, Mendez says her son was officially diagnosed with leukemia and immediately began treatment at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

A few months earlier, Garcia tested positive for COVID-19 in July and then in October. After spending some time in the hospital, he was diagnosed for the third time.

Mendez says it has been difficult living with a child who is immunocompromised in the midst of a pandemic. More than ever, she says she just wants to keep her child as safe as possible.

“I have to make sure there aren’t a lot of people around, especially if he’s inside or even going into a store,” Mendez said. “I have to constantly have hand sanitizer and wipes because I’m very afraid, as a mother whose child has cancer, that they will get COVID-19.”

According to the CDC, people with immune-compromising conditions, such as cancer, are more likely to have a severe case of COVID-19.

The single mother of two says it was heartbreaking to see her son battle this cancer.

“You wear them for nine months, and then longer over the years. So just to see them suffer and disappear, no mother wants to see their child do that or go through that,” Mendez said.

As Garcia continues to fight, Mendez says doctors don’t have a good outlook for his diagnosis.

“We don’t know if he’ll see his next birthday, but if he still has the mentality that he’s going to beat it, I think he will,” Mendez said.

To help with Garcia’s medical expenses, the family created a GoFundMe account. To access it, click here.

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