Mother copes with son's illness
The child showed no symptoms before becoming ill.
By LINDA M. LINONIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Ramon Smith, 12, was like any other young boy before May 16, said his mother, Ramonita Torres of Youngstown.
He played football and rooted for his favorite team, the New England Patriots, rode his bicycle and played basketball.
But in the spring he had a kidney infection and pneumonia. Ensuing treatment led to the discovery of tumors in his lungs and rib area and the diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma on that day in May. It was found at Level 4, which is terminal.
Torres said her son may undergo chemotherapy from three to seven times a week at Forum Health Tod Children's Hospital. The treatment is not a cure but a method to try to control the growth and spread of the cancer.
Ramon, a sixth-grader at Eagle Heights Academy, is home-schooled by tutors when his health allows. "Because of the treatment, he often isn't up to it," Torres said.
Healthy Start insurance has paid for much of Ramon's medical bills, but it doesn't cover the cost of medicines and incidentals. A single mother, Torres had worked as a supervisor with West Telemarketing in Niles. But she had to leave her job to be a full-time caregiver for her son.
"I am honored to be his mother," Torres said. "He amazes me with his strength and perseverance." She said he does have some down days but demonstrates a remarkable attitude for his age.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation arranged for a trip to Disney World, Orlando, Fla., where the family stayed at the Give the Kids the World Village. Torres' other children are Gregory Smith, 13; Lesandra Smith, 10; and Hannah Grace Torres, 9.
The family is pitching in to help with fund-raisers that Torres has planned. Also assisting are Torres' adult daughter, Tasha Torres; her sister, Jenny Torres of Campbell; Ramon's father, Gregory Smith; and family friends, Lorenzo and Tiffany Perkins, all of Youngstown.
"I'm doing the fund-raisers because I have to keep busy. If I don't, I'll go crazy," Torres said.
Torres said she and her family also have gotten support at her church, House of the Lord in Akron. "You go where the Lord leads you," she said. But locally, she has attended Rising Star Baptist Church and New Bethel Baptist Church. Torres said the Rev. Kenneth L. Simon of New Bethel has "prayed with us" and "been awesome."
Though Torres said she was informed that her son has a deadly form of cancer, she is holding on to hope. "I believe God will heal him and he will be a testament to other children with cancer," she said. Ramon knows that his illness is serious, but Torres said she has not gone into all the details with him.
Torres said a fund, the Ramon Smith fund-raising account, has been set up at Bank One, where donations will be accepted.