EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 29, 2013

Community rallies around Lawrence boy diagnosed with cancer

By Yadira Betances

---- — LAWRENCE — Sitting on a blue Adirondack chair, Daymien Rios , 3, holds his mother’s index finger as he watches cartoons on TV.

Minutes later, he jumps on her lap and she caresses his face as the two talk about his love for Iron Man, riding his scooter, playing games on his iPad, and visiting the zoo. He is looking forward to getting a dog and going to Disney World.

But, Daymien and his family are facing a great challenge.

On June 4, doctors diagnosed him with pontine gliomas - a tumor on the brain stem.

“I was in disbelief,” Daymien’s mother, Tasia Hinton said. “It just didn’t seem real because it happened so fast.”

Hinton said he was born Sept. 24, 2009, at 7 pounds, 4-ounces with no health problems. But a teacher at the Child Care Center, which is run by Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, Inc., noticed Daymien had a lazy eye.

Hinton became concerned and took him to his primary care doctor, who suggested he see an ophthalmologist. The eye specialist sent Daymien to a neurologist, who ordered him to get an MRI.

“I had no idea,” Hinton said. “The first thing I thought of was that he needed glasses. It is obviously very hard. I never thought in a million years that it would happen to him.”

After the MRI, and the diagnosis, Daymien stayed at Tufts Medical Center for two weeks. During this time, he was visited by Red Sox pitchers Craig Breslow and Andrew Bailey and Cassadee Pope from The Voice 2013.

“The hospital was really rough because we were seeing new doctors and he had to have so many different tests,” said Hinton, a Lawrence native. She lived in Salem, N.H., for several years and graduated from Salem High School in 2007, before returning to Lawrence.

According to the St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital’s website, tumors affect the cranial nerves, causing symptoms such as double vision, inability to close the eyelids completely, drooping on one side of the face, weakness of the arms or legs and difficulty with speech and walking.

This week, Daymien has been going to Tufts Medical Center for radiation, which will be followed by chemotherapy. Doctors will then decided if Daymien will have a biopsy.

What hurts Hinton the most is knowing there is no cure.

“It’s frustrating to think that with all the technology and science we have, they can’t find a cure for it.

“My worst fear is that Daymien is not going to be here one day; he’s not going to live for us to see him lose his first tooth and that he’s not going to graduate from high school,” Hinton said.

That is why Hinton and her boyfriend, Alex Sanchez, who is not his biological father, enjoy every moment they can with Daymien. The boy wants a dog, which they will get him soon, and they will take a trip to Disney World sooner, rather than later.

“We have learned to accept what he has and stay positive,” Hinton said. “We have to be strong for him because otherwise who would be strong for him?”

That is why she never cries in front of her son so he doesn’t ask what is wrong.

“I ask myself, ‘Why Daymien?’ He’s a good boy, he shouldn’t be going through this. We can’t blame anybody. We just have to have faith that he’s going to get better and everything is going to be alright,” Hinton said.

Hinton and Sanchez have received a lot of support from family, friends and staff members at the hospital and the Child Care Center.

“It was just devastating when we found out about it,” said Robin Lynch, Program Director at the Child Care Center at 581 Andover St.

To support Hinton, the school is hosting a bake sale this week as well as baskets to be raffled off. They have an ongoing fund-raiser they dubbed, “Dimes for Daymien.”

“People have been extremely generous,” Lynch said. “They have donated everything from food, gas cards and money to pay for parking while at the hospital.”

Daymien had been in preschool for almost a year. To keep him connected with his classmates and teachers, Lynch said they have face time with Daymien on a regular basis through his iPad. He also occasionally drops in at the school.

One place Daymien has gotten accustomed to is Tufts Medical Center.

“He knows everybody and they give him toys so most of the time, he doesn’t want to come home,” his mother said.

To help A fund has been set up for Daymien Rios at Sovereign Bank. The account number is: 2351118316.