Landon Vargas was born on November 26, 2006. He was the oldest son of Beth and Ariel Vargas, and the playful older brother to three siblings. Landon loved to play sports and he always competed with determination, enthusiasm and a smile on his face. Whether winning or losing, Landon’s contagious laughter and positive attitude never wavered.
In 2009, on Landon’s fourth birthday, he was diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer. On this day, our lives were forever changed. Upon his diagnosis, a five-year and nine-day long battle began, not only for Landon, but for all those who loved him. What began as what we thought was a normal earache led us to an ultrasound at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and then to a biopsy where we were told, “your child has cancer and it is a very rare form.”
There were an endless number of meetings with doctors to explore different treatment options, and planning for what we were told would be a long and hard road. During the next five years, Landon endured numerous chemotherapy treatments, surgeries, two rounds of proton radiation and several clinical trials. We received opinions and treatments throughout the United States from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania, Nemours Alfred/Dupont Hospital for Children, Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Boston Children’s Hospital, Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York, St. Jude’s Hospital for Children in Tennessee, and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. One of Landon’s most incredible and memorable experiences occurred on September 26, 2015 when he received a personal blessing from Pope Francis in Philadelphia. Pope Francis held Landon in his arms, rubbed his head, kissed him several times and gave him a Papal Blessing.
In life, Landon competed on a much higher level. He battled his disease with a light heart, courage well beyond his years and always with an endless smile! Landon was so brave in every circumstance but sadly, after a five-year battle, Landon passed away nine days after his ninth birthday in 2015. Landon was, and continues to be, an inspiration to us all!
Over the course of our journey, we eventually found ourselves out of chemotherapy options. The old treatments had proven to be unsuccessful and nothing new had been developed. We moved on to many different clinical trials but one after another proved ineffective. Some of these trials would treat the tumor but would shoot incredibly high amounts of toxins in our son’s already frail body causing devastating side effects. After years of exhausting every other treatment option, these are the decisions and choices we were forced to make. Like many families, our experience has left us with an emptiness that will never be filled, but we strive to work with CureSearch in an effort to help other families that are currently battling this disease with their child. That is why we are wholeheartedly behind CureSearch, because they provide parents with hope with their cutting-edge research.