From the time he was 4 years old, Kevin Castro, of San Angelo, has loved soccer. He has spent his young life improving his skill kicking the ball for passing, dribbling and running down the field. Staying with any sport for a dozen years take a strong will. Kevin has that, and it came in to play as he entered a new phase in his young life…a new phase as a cancer patient.
Lethargy and flu-like symptoms led Kevin and his family to visit family pediatrician Karl Wehner, MD, in the summer of 2002. A round of medication helped somewhat, but the fatigue continued. The Castros knew something was very wrong when Kevin couldn't get his strength up to do well at soccer tryouts that summer.
A call from Dr. Wehner's office soon changed their lives. Kevin was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). In mom Linda Castro's words, "I was destroyed."
A cancer diagnosis can shake the foundation of a family, but this diagnosis went even deeper for the Castros. They had lost a 5-year-old son, Orlando, to brain cancer three years before Kevin was born.
"I was not believing it," Linda says. "We were numb, scared. Even though something inside of me just knew that Kevin had cancer, also, the reality was very harsh."
The Castros' first duty was to tell Kevin. His question was whether he was going to die like Orlando. They responded, "Absolutely not."
Kevin began a two-year regimen of traveling to Cook Children's Medical Center, Fort Worth, for chemotherapy and visiting the chemotherapy outpatient clinic at Shannon Medical Center. During his treatment, he maintained his high academic performance and continued playing soccer—competitive soccer with his brother, Gabriel, as coach.
"He has been so strong," Linda says. "He took the bull by the horns and said he was going to win this battle. He never stopped soccer, but he learned what he could handle. He said it was no big deal—just a disease."
And he has won the battle. Final testing in February 2005 declared Kevin cancer free. But, the lessons of his past two years will stay with this teenager.
"Cancer has taught me to live life to the fullest," Kevin says. "Have fun with life."