Daniel Tomas Garcia-Beech was born on December 31, 2002. From the very beginning, he was a sweet baby, constantly smiling and laughing. One of his karate teachers used to call him Mr. Smiley, he smiled so much. He was a very active kid, but basketball was always his favorite sport. His favorite NBA player was John Wall, who he once got to meet at a Washington Wizards game thanks to the Life with Cancer organization. His favorite movie series was Star Wars, his favorite video game was Minecraft, and although he never particularly liked going to school, he did love to get to see his friends. All in all, Daniel was a typical kid.
When he was eleven, his leg started to hurt. No one thought much of it at the time; Daniel had probably just sprained a muscle while playing sports. But it didn’t go away. Finally, his mom, Theresa Beech, took him to the doctor for an x-ray, and there, they found out the news. There was a tumor in his fibula. Osteosarcoma.
Everything changed. All of a sudden there were constant visits to the clinic, overnight stays at the hospital for chemotherapy, consultations with a bone surgeon. Daniel’s biggest problem before the diagnosis had been being forced to eat his vegetables. Those days were long past. Chemotherapy is a long, horribly painful treatment, with permanent damage left upon the body. And yet, despite having to endure more than any child of eleven should ever have to endure, Daniel remained strong. He still laughed, he still joked with his family. Everything was different, and yet Daniel persevered.
After relapsing while on the first-line treatment protocol, he showed a response to the second-line treatment. In April 2015, he was declared NED, or No Evidence of Disease. And yet, six months later, the cancer was back.
At this point, there was no more standard treatment left for him. His left leg was amputated at the knee, and Theresa Beech began researching clinical trials. They tried everything, but it was too late. Daniel Garcia-Beech died on August 28, 2016, almost exactly two years after his initial diagnosis. He was thirteen years old.
The truth is, his chances were never high. Relapsed osteosarcoma has few to no treatment options, and MYC-amplified tumors typically respond poorly to chemotherapy. Osteosarcoma treatment has not changed in the past thirty years, and as such, the chance of survival hasn’t either. Theresa did all the research she could, learned everything there was to know, but at the end of the day, there just wasn’t enough research out there to save him, or to save the countless other children like him.
We started this foundation to give children like Daniel a better chance against this horrible disease. Daniel died, but perhaps we can change the fates of other children.
“If I can save one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.” – Emily Dickinson