Juan Carlos Frenes-Lopez is a real hero.
Diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) just two weeks after his third birthday, Juan Carlos and his family have been through a tough, three-year battle with childhood cancer at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
Located in Fort Myers, Golisano Children’s Hospital is the only facility of its kind between Miami and Tampa for pediatric services and oncology. That’s where Luli Lopez, the mother of Juan Carlos, took her son for his lifesaving treatments.
Fighting cancer was not easy. During the three years that he endured intensive chemotherapy, Juan Carlos encountered a number of complications. At one point, he got so sick that the care team at Golisano Children’s Hospital paused his chemotherapy and restarted the treatment cycle once he had recovered. “It was such a struggle, but Juan was always positive. He wouldn’t let it get him down,” said Luli.
Juan Carlos even started school with cancer. Knowing it would be a challenge, Luli chose North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts, where Juan Carlos has since excelled. He is now participating in the gifted program and loves going to school. Last year, Juan Carlos started band and played the violin; this year, he’s moved on to mastering the tuba. Plus, he currently plays as an offensive lineman for the football team. He’s even grown taller than his mom!
Then, the happy day arrived. Juan Carlos turned seven years old, and his cancer entered remission. His port was removed in 2017, signaling that he had completed his treatments. Juan Carlos and Luli are now celebrating three years of being completely cancer free.
That’s when Juan Carlos decided to give back to the community – and in the process, became his mom’s own personal hero. “After he lost his hair, he grew it out for a while so that he could cut it for Clips for Cancer,” Luli explained. “He cut his ponytail during the 2019 fundraiser in the hopes that his hair could help a future cancer patient feel better. He knows what it’s like to live without hair, and go to school and be different. Juan Carlos is a real hero who will give up his own precious locks to make a difference in someone else’ life.”
“I am so proud of him; he’s such a good kid,” she added.
Clips for Cancer is the annual fundraiser of Barbara’s Friends, which is the cancer fund of Golisano Children’s Hospital. Barbara’s Friends exists to ensure that every child who needs critical oncology and pediatric services at the hospital will receive it, regardless of their family’s financial situation. Sometimes, for a family like Juan’s, have that option to stay close to home during such a tumultuous ordeal can make all the difference.
Juan has decided to be a role model for others by participating in Clips for Cancer again. This time, he will be shaving the head of Dr. Scott Nygaard, chief operating officer for Lee Health, on Friday, Sept. 18. The proceeds from this event will benefit kids at Golisano Children’s Hospital who are fighting childhood cancer. Won’t you show your support along with Juan Carlos? Donate online to Barbara’s Friends at https://justgiving.com/campaign/clips2020.