Dustin Castro, October 2, 2010, Miami, FL
Dustin is an energetic, super smart 7 year old boy who loves and lives for car racing. Dustin’s love for cars goes beyond imaginable, he loves high performance cars and likes to watch and play racing video games.
Dustin was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in September 2007 and has been in remission for 3 years. We discovered Dustin’s illness one day when he started complaining about pain in his elbow, it was swollen and red, but originally it was thought to be a casualty of his activeness. When the swelling did not subside and he started complaining about pain in other joints, we took him to the hospital to see a Rheumatologist, where he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
The doctor began treatment right away which lasted 4 months until one night Dustin’s fever spiked to 104 degrees and we had to rush him to the emergency room. Dustin’s condition at that time was critical and in a matter of hours his face and neck was swollen and he was complaining of massive head aches and vomiting profusely. The ER Doctor ran a couple of test and was concerned that his white cell count was extremely low and all the lymph nodes in his body were swollen. We were taken to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) right away where they started antibiotics to try and stop the “infection” they thought he had. Dustin’s condition continued to get worse; the fever did not go down. Dr Doured Daghistani, a Hematologist-oncologist stepped into the PICU and suggested a bone marrow aspiration to determine why the “infection” was not going away. When the procedure was done the Dr. told us he needed to do a bone biopsy, which unfortunately the results came back positive. However we were told that the type of Leukemia Dustin had was very curable and he had an 85% chance of surviving. The treatment consisted of three stages, the intensification, induction, and maintenance.
The intensification phase went fast but very hard on him! They administered high doses of chemotherapy to kill all leukemic cells and wipe out his marrow; he went into remission right away. The Induction phase was a year filled with hospital stays, blood transfusions, anxiety, and long sleepless nights watching his temperature. We tried to lived as “normal” as possible, pretending everything was fine so minimize any trauma to Dustin. Today Dustin is doing excellent and back to his normal activities, but still taking oral chemotherapy every night as part of the maintenance phase which will conclude January 2011. He is attending school and is a straight “A” student. We are so thankful to Dr. Daghistani and his wonderful staff, the people from the Children Cancer Caring Center that took us under their wings and helped us through the whole process. Without these extraordinary human beings that dedicate their life to help these children through their journeys all this would not be possible.
As the 2010 Indy Series came to a close in Miami, it ended with another successful event with Dustin and his family! This was his first Indy race and he was very excited to meet the drivers and see all the hot and fast cars! He spent his day visiting with Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick and some very extra special time with Ryan Hunter-Reay, who even gave Dustin a personal garage tour and told him all about his car! Before the race started as the driver announcements began, Dustin walked the stage with Ryan before going to his grandstand seat to enjoy the race. It was a very long night for Dustin and near the end of the night he was so full of excitement that he just had to close his eyes and rest! He laid his head in his mother’s lap and in seconds he was out…but I’m sure he was dreaming of driving Ryan’s car around the track!