A special gift for boy bravely fighting a rare cancer

For Japheth Martinez-Alvarez, 11, being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer changed his life. He said his biggest challenge has been the pain.

Japheth is being treated by a committed team at Mount Sinai, including Dr. Brian Coakley who says that only about 100 people are diagnosed with Japheth's condition every year.

His illness is called desmoplastic small round cell tumor. The patient usually presents with hundreds or sometimes thousands of very small tumor nodules all throughout the abdomen, according to Dr. Coakley.

The treatment is aggressive. Japheth had chemotherapy for multiple cycles over several months, Dr. Coakley said. He then had two surgeries to remove the tumors. Now he is undergoing more chemo and radiation.

These treatments have put a pause on Japheth's childhood. He has had to pull out of school and his day-to-day routine.

He said he gets through it by staying close to his family. He said his mother and father have been so important throughout the process, which all contributes to one very simple but powerful force: love. His parents have become his rock and are with him every step of the way, taking turns caring for their young boy.

His mother, Mery Alvarez, said Japheth is a very brave boy. He is calm and doesn't often complain, she said. She said he inspires her with his bravery.

Dr. Coakley said other patients see what Japheth has gone through while always having a smile on his face. He even inspires the staff.

As Japheth goes through round after round of treatment, he said he is hopeful for the day he'll be able to return to school and have a fresh start and make new friends. But in the meantime, he is doing his best to keep up with academics from home. He has to do social studies, science, and his favorite subject, math. 

And to get it all done, he is forced to share his mother's outdated laptop, which she often needs for her own work. This makes keeping up challenging for both of them, just one more barrier during a very difficult time.

So would a newer computer help?

He said it would allow him to do all his work on time and help him get back to school.

Fox 5 had a little surprise for him: A brand-new Apple MacBook Air laptop so he doesn't have to share with his mom anymore.

A generous good Samaritan who asked to remain anonymous paid for the Mac. And with the new computer comes the hope for new, healthy beginnings and, for now, a big smile for a strong, inspiring boy.

It is a big step forward on Japheth's journey to a very bright future.