It’s a brisk, autumn weekday afternoon in Fletcher, Oklahoma. Kids are super excited that their school day is over because now they can go outside and play. People at work anxiously peer at the clock on the wall, impatiently waiting for the five o’clock rush hour so they can go home, kick up their proverbial heels, and relax. For most of us, the idea of the day being over is a comfort we often take for granted. For 11-year-old Joseph Rodriguez, this is a luxury, as of July 30, 2014, he can no longer afford.

When someone has cancer, the whole family and everyone who loves them does, too.

For months, Joseph had been suffering from headaches. Initially, his mom assumed they were only the occasional mild annoyance that every child sometimes experiences. You know, something that could be handled with some over-the-counter headache, cold and flu, or allergy medicine. But shortly thereafter, she began to notice that they were getting progressively worse. Of course, she did what any other mother would do; she took her son to the doctor to get a CT Scan as a precautionary measure just to make sure everything was OK. Little did she know the next day she would receive the phone call that would change her life forever.

It was then that the doctor told her they found a tumor developing near her son's pituitary gland; a condition scientifically known as Craniopharyngioma. It is a slow growing brain tumor that is generally classified as benign, but the treatment of it can often be very difficult. Normally, when you hear the word cancer you become very afraid. Two weeks after Joseph was diagnosed, he had a 4 ½ hour surgery to remove the tumor, but they ended up having to leave some of it there.

Jose, Joseph’s dad, who is normally the epitome of strength and stability for his family, is being incomprehensibly torn apart. This is a man who lost his own father to cancer, lost his mother to diabetes, and now he had to stand by helpless and witness the suffering of his son. LaDonna, Joseph’s mom, hard-working and dedicated to her family, had to endure the agony of a surgery where anything could have gone wrong; all while silently wishing it were her and not her baby on that operating table.

Joseph Rodriguez

But bravest of all is Joseph, a cute and highly spirited little boy who is considered an “old soul” because he’s always been so mature, & seems to manage everything in stride. He was in the hospital for a week after his surgery, and while everyone around him was full of anxiety and stress, Joseph maintained the steadfast composure of a young man many years his senior. He is everything but a typical 11 year old. This is a little boy who every day after school, makes the almost 160 mile, three hour round trip to and from Oklahoma City with his mom and/or dad, to receive his daily dose of proton radiation treatments to shrink the part of the tumor that was left over. The treatments are shot directly into where the tumor is located; generally lasting anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, and every Monday he has to have an MRI. Joseph does this procedure five days a week and still somehow manages to be a straight ‘A’ student. He loves to read mystery & suspense, he likes baseball, video games, & as long as he has access to his favorite shows; 'Pawn Stars,' 'American Pickers,' 'Ricks Restoration,' 'Counting Cars,' and 'Top Gear.' He’s as happy as can be.

Jose and LaDonna both continue to work fulltime in order to support their family’s ever increasing medical expenses. Fortunately, they both have great bosses who are understanding of this unexpected situation, and are sympathetic to their ever-adjusting needs.

There is a quote that says, “When someone has cancer, the whole family and everyone who loves them does, too.”  The Rodriguez household is a family with a bond so strong nothing can sever or come between it. There is no challenge too difficult, no obstacle too impenetrable, and no repetitive task too burdensome or inconvenient. No, not even cancer. Not when it comes to Joseph. They are not victims, they are survivors; a family who loves each other in any condition and under any circumstance. Rodriguez family, I salute you; you are an inspiration to us all!

Lawton/Ft. Sill, Let’s all do what we can to help this local family with some of their ever- increasing expenses -- i.e. medical bills, fuel, & things specifically for Joseph. Here are just some of the ways you can give:

Pray for Joseph Rodriguez Fundraiser at El Chico’s (In the Mall) will be November 15, 2014 from 5pm- 9pm.

Or you can make donations through the GoFundMe account that has been set up for Joseph.

You can follow Joseph’s progress via the Pray For Joseph Rodriguez Facebook page.

Written By: Tanika Gentry

Joseph Rodriguez prayer team