• Orlando family sells home, pays thousands to treat son's rare cancer in Mexico

    Updated:

    An Orlando family says Food and Drug Administration restrictions on drugs are forcing them to go to Mexico to try to cure their son's rare cancer.

    Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children was the only hospital in the state that could treat 8-year-old Alan Vasquez.

    The cost of the treatment forced the family to sell their home.

    Vasquez’s parents have jobs and health insurance, but none of that matters for treatment outside of the U.S.

    Earlier this year, the Vasquez family was reeling from the diagnosis of a rare, incurable brain cancer.

    “They pretty much gave us a death sentence,” said the child’s mother, Midi Vasquez.

    But now, six weeks after the diagnosis, things are changing.

    Vasquez began researching treatment and found intra-arterial chemotherapy.

    It’s a combination of drugs that is injected into a major artery and straight into the tumor.

    But the only option for the treatment she found in the U.S. included mandatory radiation and a wait list for a trial, in which Alan wasn’t guaranteed a spot.

    Those conditions led the family to a monthlong stay in Monterrey, Mexico, where oncologists are infusing a cocktail of FDA-approved drugs that are not available in the U.S.

    Three weeks after his first treatment, the issues with Alan’s right leg and eye have lessened

    His latest MRI showed a 50 percent reduction in the tumor on his brainstem.

    “I was in shock. I was so happy, said Vasquez.

    The family is grateful for the help it has received from the community.

    “It's all about him and keep going with the treatment,” said Vasquez.

    But it hasn't come cheap. 

    Each treatment costs thousands of dollars, and the expenses have forced them to sell their east Orlando home. 

    Alan's parents are already preparing for another trip south, facing the unknown with a faith they couldn't find at home.

    “I'm really excited because we didn't have any hope before,” said Vasquez.

    Alan and his mother met on Thursday with their Orlando-area oncologist, who offered to keep communication open with the oncologist in Mexico.

    Vasquez said she met other parents in Mexico who were there for the same reason.

    She hopes the FDA will begin to see the need for quicker actionso that those suffering from diseases don’t have to wait for a potentially lifesaving drug to be approved. 

    Next Up: