MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Like any typical 12-year-old Victoria Rubio likes posing for fun photos, loves her dogs, and her dolls and painting.
She is also a spokesperson for “Team Victoria” fundraising for the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer.
Her journey with St. Jude began when Victoria was eight years old, and she complained of bad headaches.
“It was on a Monday I was like ‘Mom I don’t want to go to school,’ and she was like ‘Okay’,” Victoria recalls. “The whole week I didn’t go at all. Then I had a CT scan and found out I had a tumor the size of a golf ball.”
Specifically, an atypical meningioma (non-cancerous) which is common, but rare in children.
“That week I was admitted to the hospital and had surgery. “Forty-nine weeks after my surgery I was having headaches again, because of my surgery I lost my peripheral view, had to sit in the front of the classroom on the left side.”
When the second tumor was discovered, it was the size of a lemon.
“Then during my surgery I had a stroke and a seizure and I lost all control of my left side.”
Because of its position, the entire tumor could be removed. The next step was radiation.
“My doctor was like, ‘You need proton radiation’, but the problem with that is there are not a lot in the world, like China, California, Jacksonville and St. Jude. It was new but also very costly. Of course St. Jude paid for everything, like you don’t pay a cent. All the families there all they have to do is worry about is being there with their child and helping them overcome the situation.”
The journey to healing would be long and hard, but it never broke her spirit.
“St. Jude to me is like my second home,” explains Victoria.
Marlene de Cespedes works with Victoria’s father at Douglas Elliman and she mobilized “Team Victoria.”
“This is our fourth year now it’s just been growing and growing. It’s incredible following her journey,” she explains.
Marlene and Victoria have built a special bond and they put the “fun” in fundraising.
“She is one of my best friends, with the bowl-a-thon and the fashion show she did that effortlessly, day and night,” Victoria states.
Victoria loves to dance and showed off some of her moves at the bowl-a-thon.
Victoria is more than the face of the Team, she also shares her talent as an artist, auctioning her work for the cause, and collaborating with local artist Alex Mijares designing this year’s walk-a-thon shirt.
The mission is on the shirt. It’s all about spreading hope and love. Victoria’s hope, her purpose, is to help as many kids as she can.
“I’ve never seen her feel sorry for herself, she’s just true inspiration, willing to help everyone and she just continues to give back,” Marlene shares.
Victoria and her family recently learned the greatest news that the tumor is changing for the better. Even still she hopes to return to St. Jude, but not as a patient. She wants to be a radiation oncologist.
Team Victoria is participating in St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer in six cities including Miami on September 28 at Tamiami Park. Please visit the website for ways to support.