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Atlas Mendez

  • General Pediatric Cancer

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Atlas is the most resilient and beautiful child with a content spirit. He’s extremely strong-willed and even a bit opinionated with very few words. His favorite movies are Finding Dory, Finding Nemo, Moana, Encanto, Coco and Lilo & Stitch. He loves his family and likes white cheddar Cheetos.

When Atlas was 8 months old, he fractured his arm. After a few casts, his parents noticed a mass on his wrist that wasn’t going away. Upon further examination, doctors found that he had a tumor that was eating away at his wrist bones. Apparently, the weakness in his bones caused the fracture, and the fracture caused the tumor to grow rapidly. Atlas was diagnosed with undifferentiated spindle cell sarcoma and began treatment a month later in October 2022.

Atlas was inpatient for three days every three weeks. In November 2022, his left arm below the elbow was amputated. He then then took oral chemotherapy six days per week until late April 2023. Atlas rang the bell to celebrate partial remission, but it was sadly short-lived. A tumor was discovered next to his heart in May. In July, Atlas underwent open heart surgery to remove the tumor directly. Although his surgeries have been successful, chemotherapy treatments have not been working, and his family is moving onto new options.

Atlas began a proton radiation therapy protocol that lasted seven weeks. Today, he is receiving chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments, overcoming the remaining side effects of radiation along with the new harsh side effects of these new treatments. He has been struggling with exhaustion, nausea, vomiting, amongst other things. His family is hoping to see positive results from his scans in early December!

Alison, Atlas’s mom, hopes that Atlas will be cured and will be able to live a long, healthy, and fulfilling life. He is her hero because he has gone through more in his 21 months of life than some people go through their entire lives. Through it all he has remained so positive and always has a huge smile on his face. His resilience is inspiring and keeps her going.

The advice Alison would like to share with families who may also be facing a childhood cancer diagnosis is heartfelt. “Your feelings are valid and deserve to be felt,” she says. “Your concerns deserve to be heard. You, your thoughts, and your feelings are allowed to take up space. There is no such thing as asking too many questions and you are not a burden to anyone around you. You are not alone, even if you feel like you are.”

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation is part of what helps Alison feel less alone. “It means someone out there cares,” she said. “It means that the children fighting, who have fought, and those who will fight have a voice and can be heard. It means hope for future funding and support for families really struggling with their child’s cancer diagnosis.”

Information provided by Alison M., Atlas’s mom
Updated November 2023

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