Benny and his family were on vacation in Orlando when a severe headache and vomiting landed him in the ER.
A simple CT scan revealed he had a tumor in the back of his brain.This was very difficult news for Benny’s parents to deliver to him. Unlike most 11-year-olds, he understood exactly what it meant to have childhood cancer. In fact, he had shaved his head for St. Baldrick’s just days before. Little did he know then that he would soon be diagnosed with childhood cancer himself.
Immediately following his diagnosis of medulloblastoma, Benny underwent a seven-hour brain surgery that left him unable to walk, talk, or swallow — the result of a side effect called posterior fossa syndrome. He’s working to get those skills back through a combination of physical, occupational, and speech therapy. He also completed six weeks of radiation and is now working his way through nine rounds of chemotherapy.
While Benny’s hard work is paying off, he has suffered a number of complications and setbacks. About five months after completing radiation, Benny was diagnosed with radiation necrosis in his brain stem, a life-threatening condition, and was treated aggressively with mega-doses of corticosteroids. Unfortunately, this condition and the treatment caused him a lot of pain and major setbacks with his motor skills.
When he’s feeling well, he likes to join his fellow 7th graders at school, play video games, bake his signature pies, draw and visit with friends. Whether he’s feeling well or not, Benny has an amazing can-do attitude and is well-known among the numerous doctors, nurses and therapists who work with him for being one of the kindest, most polite patients they’ve ever had the pleasure of carrying for.
But when they ask Benny about himself, he doesn’t talk about his love of video games or his baking skills. Instead, he proudly tells them that he was the top fundraiser for St. Baldrick’s in the sixth grade at his school. Now, St. Baldrick’s holds an extra special place in Benny’s big heart, and he and his family are more determined than ever to help find cures for Benny and kids like him. Please join them!
Donations given to The Benicio Martinez Fund For Pediatric Cancer Research have funded a Research Grant for Yanxin Pei, Ph. D. Dr. Pei is researching medulloblastoma at Children's National Medical Center which is affiliated with George Washington University in Washington, DC.
These people make us smile - they’re the doers and money-raisers on behalf of The Benicio Martinez Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research. They’re shaving their heads, hosting events, starting fundraisers and more to make childhood cancer research possible.
Start your own St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event to raise money on behalf of our Hero Fund! You’ll be paired with a staff member who will walk you through every step of the process, and you’ll have fun knowing you’re doing a great thing for kids with cancer.
Register to shave your head and raise money for our Hero Fund at any St. Baldrick’s event happening around the world! Not finding an event near you? Register as a virtual shavee and shave your head anytime, anywhere.