RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) – Pharr’s Omar Fernandez has been battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia since 2017. He was diagnosed at age 13 and began treatment at the Vannie E. Cook Clinic in McAllen.
In March 2020, Omar had a relapse and had to prepare for a bone marrow transplant, which he received at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. He has remained in Houston since the transplant on June 19, 2020.
According to his parents, his health has gone through many ups and downs and the most recent setback is an operation he had a few weeks ago. He is fighting a fungus in his lungs.
However, they hope for a full recovery and say they are grateful to have a strong support system, including the team at the pediatric cancer nonprofit, SuperRami & Friends.
After undergoing multiple treatments and surgeries in the past year, Omar’s mother, Maria Fernandez, said she is trying to help other parents she meets.
“When we started, we felt like we didn’t have anyone to ask questions,” Maria said. ” We were afraid; we were lost. So when I see a mother or father crying – that fear, that pain – I tell them some of the things Omar has been through so they know they are not alone and that there is light is the end of the tunnel.”
Omar’s father, Omar Sr., agreed, saying that praying and leaning on each other will get them through.
“It may not be as fast as we want, but we keep our faith that it will happen in God’s timing,” said Omar Sr. “Just keep the faith and pray – that has helped us a lot.”
While the hospital stay has taken its toll on his body, leading to muscle breakdown, Omar continues to fight and, with the help of physical therapy, he is slowly regaining his strength.
“I try to get out of bed and get up to get my thighs and leg muscles back to where they need to be,” he said. “It’s a little painful, but I still want to do it to try and get out of here.”
Omar said that once he is able to return home to the RGV, he is looking forward to reuniting his friends at SuperRami and just being a normal teenager.
The Fernandezes are asking the community to celebrate Omar’s one-year bone marrow transplant, or rebirth, with them by sending birthday cards and letters to the hospital. Some of his interests include DC superheroes, Harry Potter and Star Wars, and the TV show ‘The Inbetweeners’.
Tickets can be mailed to Texas Children’s Hospital at 6621 Fannin St. Houston, TX 77030 West Tower Room 709.