Patient Story: Cristian

When he was just 16 months old, Cristian Baltierra was transferred to Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego after an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan showed he had a brain tumor. The tumor was causing hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid inside the skull that leads to brain swelling.

Maria, Cristian’s mom, is grateful to Rady Children’s for the care her son has received. “The nurses always catered to the children,” she says. “It was very sad, but at the same time, it was a very happy moment because Cristian wasn’t scared of going to the hospital because it was fun for him at times. The docs originally said Cristian would probably not survive, and if he did, he probably wasn’t going to be able to walk.”

She went on to say that her son has been an inspiration to everyone around him. “I would not change a thing about the way our lives have been. The reason I say that is it has made me the mom that I am and has strengthened Cristian in such a way … he is such a wonderful human being. He worries a lot for other children who are sick, and he cares for children with difficulties in his classroom. I think he is an inspiration to anyone who is going through hard times.”

Cristian had both surgery (a crainiotomy) and chemotherapy. He also had ventricular shunts placed to treat the hydrocephalus.

Today, Cristian is in remission and doing well. When he was first diagnosed, another mother said to Maria, “God will not give you more than you can handle.” Maria took those words to heart and did everything she could to help her son. “My tears went away, and I started working together with nurses and doctors to help him get better,” she says.

Published May 2013