Make-A-Wish Kid Tino Luigi’s Amazing Story
Lucas Tino Luigi was just five years old when he was diagnosed with cancer. His mother, Jean, remembers it clearly (as any mother would). It was June 12th, 2001. Tino had a large tumor wrapped around his adrenal gland and many of his vital organs. There were cancerous lesions all over his body and his bone marrow was 90 percent cancer cells. He was given a extremely slim chance of survival.
Tino’s parents, Jean and Perry were told of a just recently approved treatment. They were told two things: 1) If the cancer doesn’t kill him, the treatment just might 2) despite the tremendous risk, it was also his best chance of survival.
The treatment was a stem cell harvest….a process by which Tino’s own cells would be taken, cleansed, and frozen. The harvesting took place on September 10, 11 and 12,
2001. The cells needed to be rushed immediately to LA, but because of the events of 9/11/2001, all planes were grounded. A lab technician volunteered to drive the cells to LA (a true angel in time of need). Two months later, on November 13th, one day before Tino’s 6th birthday, he had a stem cell transplant. While Jean, Perry and Tino’s two older brothers Nate and Jake held their collective breath, the transplant took….and Tino started to slowly heal.
Almost two years later in June of 2003 Tino was healthy enough, strong enough, to have his Make A Wish come true. He wanted to take a family vacation to Alaska. Why Alaska? That’s where Tino’s Uncle Joel lived. Joel came down often to be with Tino, talk with Tino, pray with Tino. So off they went, the whole family in what Tino will tell you was the trip of a lifetime.
The Luigis returned home from Alaska on June 29th, 2003. On June 30th, 2003, Tino’s older brother, Nate, who was in the Army, passed away from a motorcycle accident. Jean, Tino’s mother, says the opportunity to get away as a family was unbelievable…. that they all got to spend the last week of Nate’s life together is something she says they are all grateful for.
Today, Tino is 18 and a senior at McClatchy High School, where he plays second base on the varsity baseball team.
He’s going to college next year (not sure exactly where yet), to study kinesiology. While Tino looks to a healthy future, his parents reflect on the past, “Our son is alive today because of the advancements made through cancer research.” They also are extremely grateful for what Make A Wish did for Tino, and for their entire family.
Before I sat down to do this I asked Tino if it were okay with him if I wrote about his story. He got right back to me and said, “I would love for you to write the article about me.”
Ten years ago somebody, maybe you, was listening to our Make A Wish Radiothon and decided to donate, not knowing exactly who it might benefit. We hope you can repeat that generosity this year on December 6th and 7th. The Tino’s of the world and their families thank you.
Click HERE for the 2013 Make-A-Wish Radiothon!