Saul Dominguez will receive celebrity treatment Monday, June 10 for a special Make-A-Wish unveiling ceremony at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. The 18-year-old from Fairfield, Calif. asked the organization for something unique – to make a gift to pediatric cancer patients.
“I’m pretty happy,” said Dominguez. “I thought, ‘Why don’t I just donate my wish to the Cancer Center?’”
Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area granted the wish that provided more than $8,000 of upgrades to the Pediatric Infusion Center. The special gift provides fun activities and useful tools for parents and patients in the reception area. Thanks to Dominguez, Make-A-Wish provided:
• Two literature racks to keep parents up-to-date;
• A “Meet Your Team” board with staff photos taken by Michaela Joy of Michaela Joy Photography who donated her time;
• An After-Mouse touch table with 12 games;
• A game station security box;
• A KwikBoost mobile device charging station; and
• An Apple iPad charging station.
UC Davis Health surgical oncologist Steven Thorpe and musculoskeletal radiologist Dillon Chen diagnosed Dominguez with a giant cell tumor in his left hip in February 2018. He was referred to pediatric oncology for treatment to stop the tumor from growing and to help reconstitute bone to preserve his hip joint. Pediatric oncologists Noriko Satake and Marcio Malogolowkin treated Dominguez in the Pediatric Infusion Center every two weeks for three months.
The treatment was effective, and Thorpe removed the aggressive, noncancerous tumor in July 18. The complex surgical procedure required a careful hip dislocation by pediatric hip preservation surgeon Holly Leshkir. Dominguez still attends physical therapy to improve his mobility.
During a clinic visit, Satake mentioned the Make-A-Wish program to Dominguez and encouraged him to apply. She was thrilled to hear his good news and is inspired by his generosity.
“What an innovative, brilliant and thoughtful idea!” said Satake.
One of the largest Make-A-Wish chapters nationwide, Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area has granted more than 8,600 wishes of critically ill children in its 35-year history, and now grants almost 400 wishes a year. But the organization doesn’t see requests like Dominguez’s too often.
“The goal of all of our wishes is to improve the health and happiness of the wish kid and their families,” said Betsy Biern, CEO of Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area. “Saul’s ‘wish to give back’ is particularly special because it will also positively impact the lives of other critically ill children, their families, and their care providers. His generosity is inspiring to me and the rest of our team.”
Dominguez’s experience was hard for him physically and mentally though he maintains a positive outlook. His “stubborn” personality got him through surgery, high school graduation and two part-time jobs.
“I try to make the most of life,” he said.
Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area
In 2019 Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area celebrates 35 years of creating life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. Research shows children who have wishes granted build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight a critical illness. Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area serves families in 17 Northern California counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Marin, Monterey, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Siskiyou, Solano and Sonoma. For more information, please visit www.sf.wish.org.
UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of more than 6 million people. Its specialists provide compassionate, comprehensive care for more than 10,000 adults and children every year, and access to more than 150 clinical trials at any given time. Its innovative research program engages more than 280 scientists at UC Davis, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Jackson Laboratory (JAX West), whose scientific partnerships advance discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Through the Cancer Care Network, UC Davis collaborates with a number of hospitals and clinical centers throughout the Central Valley and Northern California regions to offer the latest cancer care. Its community-based outreach and education programs address disparities in cancer outcomes across diverse populations. For more information, visit cancer.ucdavis.edu.