MUKWONAGO — No four-year-old should have to think about a big, bad word like cancer. But Juan Pablo Franco of Mukwonago did, and he beat it.
Doctors diagnosed Juan Pablo at age two, with Acute Myeloid Leukemia or AML.
At first, doctors didn't think it was Leukemia, but then he got sick and was in a lot of pain; he could hardly walk.
"The low point was when I got the phone call," Juan Pablo's dad Jose said. "My heart dropped."
"The bone marrow biopsy came in and it was obviously devastating," added his mom, Herlinda.
For nine months doctors pumped chemicals into his little body to kill the cancer cells.
"When you see your child suffering and in so much pain, you just want him to get better right away," Herlinda said.
Juan Pablo spent 153 days in the MACC Fund Center at Children's and underwent intense chemotherapy.
Herlinda knew they were in the right place for treatment, "They held our hand and explained everything to us."
Soon, things started to look up. Juan Pablo got better, and he eventually got to ring the bell at the MACC Fund Center to signify the end of his treatment.
"It went like this, DING DONG," Juan Pablo sang.
During treatment, he missed his older brothers and sister Jose Jr., Lily, and Julio, but they were with him through it all, including as he designed the 2020 TMJ4 MACC Star.
"He's known for his little muscles and #JuanPabloStrong so we put that in, and he colored it in so that was kind of fun," said Herlinda.
The difficult days of ups and downs are now behind them.
"It was difficult," Jose acknowledged, "but at the end, he's here and all because of the MACC Fund."
The 33rd annual TMJ4 MACC Star is available for purchase on the MACC Fund's website, maccfund.org. You can also buy one at any Balistreri-owned Sendik's or at Spargo Salon & Spa in Pewaukee.
They are $10 each and all sales benefit the MACC Fund.