As Houstonians evacuated in preparation for Hurricane Harvey last week, one mom knew she was going to have to drive right toward it to save her son’s life.
Tony Castro was just 7 years old when he was diagnosed with brain cancer, but the deadly disease has never stopped him from living his life to the fullest.
Now 11, Tony and his family were shocked when doctors revealed that a CT scan showed the cancer has returned about a month ago.
With a tumor the size of a golf ball growing in his brain, Tony had to undergo surgery right away during Hurricane Harvey last week.
“They thought I wasn’t going to come over here because of the storm, but for my son, I would brave any storm,” Tony’s mom, Lilliana Castro, told TODAY.
As a devoted mom and a registered nurse, Castro refused to give up on her son when doctors in San Antonio said they felt that continuing treatment would be unsafe for Tony, who underwent surgery in 2014.
Ever since, Lilliana has been making the 200-mile trip to Houston every six weeks to get her son the treatments he needs to survive.
Although Harvey had already made landfall by the time Castro left for the hospital last week, the determined mom made sure she got to the hospital for her son.
Even though the floods made it impossible for Castro’s car to make it to the hospital, she came up with a plan as quickly as possible.
“I went out trying to see where I could get closer to the hospital area, but it was just flooded everywhere,” she said.
A friend put Castro in touch with Jeff Weinstock, owner of wholesale bakery and butcher shop Cake & Bacon, who agreed to pick the family up in his truck.
“It just kind of hit me after dropping him off, it was cool to be a part of that experience and to be so helpful,” Weinstock told TODAY.
Despite the chaos at the hospital, Dr. David Sandberg determined that Tony’s tumor was too serious to wait any longer, and the boy was brought into surgery right away.
“If the tumor grew even a little bit more, he was going to get very sick from increased pressure in the brain, and was going to show up in the emergency room vomiting, lethargic, even comatose,” Sandberg told TODAY.
It took nearly five hours to complete the surgery, but in the end, 90 percent of Castro’s tumor was removed.
“I have never in my life seen anything like this,” Castro said. “There is a lot of destruction and disaster, but at least something good came out of this.”