Surprise Squad rallies around Phoenix-area family whose young son has brain cancer

Surprise Squad is sponsored by Valley Toyota Dealers.
Jesse, 9, seen here surrounded by his loving family, recently had surgery to remove a brain...
Jesse, 9, seen here surrounded by his loving family, recently had surgery to remove a brain tumor and will soon be undergoing chemotherapy.(Arizona's Family)
Updated: Mar. 26, 2021 at 9:04 AM MST
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PHOENIX (Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad) -- Alexis Silva works at Dental Design of Arcadia and is said to be the employee who keeps everything together. She keeps up morale with her laughter, and the patients all adore her. But both she and her son are going through some serious health issues, which is why Cheryl Maro reached out to Arizona’s Family. Her husband, Dr. Louis Maro, is the dentist at the clinic.

“Her son currently has brain cancer,” Cheryl told 3TV’s Gina Maravilla and the Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad. “A very big tumor.”

“What do you hope this community will do for her?” Maravilla asked.

“Pray, pray, pray. Donate, donate, donate.”

On a recent spring morning, Cheryl and Dr. Maro invited Alexis to go for a walk in a Phoenix park across the street from their clinic. What Alexis didn’t know was that the Surprise Squad was waiting for them in the park.

“Alexis?” Maravilla asked as the trio approached. “I’m Gina Maravilla from Channel 3. I’m also from the Surprise Squad, and I think you thought you were going for a stroll. But you’re not. You’re actually out here to come see us. Surprise!”

“I’m very surprised,” Alexis laughed.

“I bet you are,” Maravilla replied. “We were contacted because people wanted to give back to you and say thank you. First of all, tell me about your personal health journey because you’ve got some issues, don’t you?”

Alexis nodded. “About maybe three or four years ago, I was diagnosed with lupus, systemic lupus. That’s been a process that I kind of learned to deal with and get past and just kind of face head-on and try to just be as positive as I can about it,” she explained. “There are days when I don’t feel well, but I just kind of get up and force myself just to go on. There’s not much I can do to change it.”

“You’ve got a little one going through some health issues too, don’t you?” Maravilla asked.

“Yeah, Jesse, he’s our youngest. He’s 9 years old. In January, we found out that he was having some pretty serious issues with his vision, and eventually, with a CT scan and an MRI, they found that he has a pretty large tumor on his optic nerve pathway. But we’re hopeful that once he’s done with chemo, they’ll shrink it. They’ll reduce it and he won’t have any more issues. Hopefully, he’ll gain some more of his sigh back eventually. He is having some issues with his hearing in his left ear. And so they’re not really sure if it’s going to change once they do these procedures. He has headaches quite often. In the last month, it’s become every day, so it’s really hard to see him go through that, and I just feel his pain. And I want to help him as much as I can, and some days there’s just nothing you can do, you know,” Alexis continued as she fought back tears.

“Here at the Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad, along with our Valley Toyota Dealers, we appreciate people like you in our community,” Maravilla said. “And we wanted to give you this.” She handed Alexis an envelope

“I’m shaking,” Alexis said as she pulled out a certificate announcing the family was getting $3,000 from the Surprise Squad.

“We know it’s just a dent, especially when you’re talking about big medical expenses,” Maravilla said. “But our hope is that you know that we as a community are rallying around you and Jesse.”

“Thank you so much,” Alexis smiled.

“And that we’re pulling for him and praying for him,” Maravilla added.

“Thank you; I appreciate that,” Alexis said. “It means so much. You guys are amazing.”

A couple of days after the surprise, Jesse had brain surgery. Doctors were not able to remove as much of the tumor as they had hoped, and he may have to have a second operation. However, his family says he is in good spirits as he recovers and already cracking jokes.

If you would like to help Jesse and his family as he embarks on a long road to recovery, you can do so on their GoFundMe page.