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Family mourns after local teen dies from long battle with cancer

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - Last month the spotlight was on childhood cancer awareness.

We’re learning that one teen, followed by many in the Yuma community, died after battling cancer for 5 years.

19-year-old Benny Rodriguez was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells.

The family says they will forever be impacted by Benny’s strength during his battle.

Sally Rodriguez is benny’s mother.

“We are devastated that he left us in such a short amount of time we thought we had more time with him. But I do want the community to know that benny didn't die from his cancer he died from non-functioning bone marrow.“

A few weeks before benny’s passing, he spent time in the hospital dealing with a fungal infection coupled with pneumonia; on top of his long time battle with leukemia.

His pediatrician, Dr. Sonal Subbu explains.

“It is one of the most common types of leukemia or blood cancers in children about 20% of the kids do not respond to regular treatments.”

“There is no prevention of this cancer. You can detect it early so you have a better chance of treatment. So when a patient comes with recurrent fevers or is losing weight for no reason, or is very tired, or if a patient has lymph nodes that are not explainable,” the Doctor added.

Sadly, the mediation was not working and Benny’s body had stopped producing white blood cells.

“Unfortunately, over the past five years that benny endure different chemos and radiation illnesses, it all played a toll on his bone marrow and his bone marrow said I'm done," Sally Rodriguez said.

Knowing the effects of no more bone marrow, Benny chose to go home.

“He was in the hospital, a little more than two and a half months. And he hadn't seen his dad, he hadn't slept in his bed, and he hadn't seen his, his puppies. So he decided that he wanted to come home and be with his family for the remaining time that he had left.” Benny’s mother explained.

She shares why his strength and determination has taught her and her family to appreciate every moment in life.

“I guess you can say benny is going to leave behind the determination that he was going to be this, that, um, no matter what you did you have to have a smile on your face,” Rodriguez said.

“He was a loving caring kid, and so he always put everyone before him,” she added.

There is a public invitation to come to celebrate his life. There will be a benefit memorial bike run on October 3rd at 9 A.M.

They will meet at the Chretins mexican food restaurant. For more details, see below.

Article Topic Follows: Yuma County

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Cody Lee

Cody Lee joined 13 On Your Side and KYMA News 11 in March 2020, but he’s no stranger to Arizona. He grew up in the Phoenix area and enjoys everything Arizona has to offer.

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