Father of infant with cancer: 'I wish I could have taken it from him'

LACEY, Wash. -- A Lacey family is struggling to stay strong and hopeful after life dealt them a devastating blow.

Maria and Frank Flores had their second son just six months ago, but their newborn has spent more time in the hospital than at home. The boy was born paraplegic, but that's the least of his worries.

"You're pregnant and have these visions of taking your baby home, and that never happened," Maria said.

Still raw from a recent miscarriage, Maria and Frank spotted a lump on their newborn's back and tears in the nurses' eyes. Their long-awaited baby, Joshua, was born with an aggressive cancer.

"He just kind of progressed through the stages in the womb and came out with full fledged stage four cancer," Maria said.

Tumors riddled his little body. The baby's biopsy uncovered neuroblastoma, a tumor predominantly found in early childhood.

"He was two days old when he started chemotherapy," Frank said.

Joshua's thick head of black hair, prime for making mohawks, disappeared. Doctors removed the main tumor, but last week discovered it's growing back. The cancer has also spread to the little boy's pelvis, leg and liver.

"I wish I could have taken it from him" Frank said. "I wanted it, praying for it, asked the lord to let me have it."

As a soldier in Afghanistan, Frank saw his share of death, and the images still haunt his head.

"I pulled the trigger when I was told to pull the trigger," he said. "When I look at death now and worry about my son, I look in that crib and I think I don't want him to be seen in my eyes what I've seen in combat."

Frank has nightmares about battles and dreams about his baby.

"I've had wonderful dreams about my son, my wife's had dreams about my son that we see him talking, see him walking, and we hear his voice," he said.

Despite the bleak prognosis, the Flores family continues to pray that their dreams will come true.

"I just cherish every day with him," Maria said. "I know that the doctors say he might not be here later on, but my heart believes he will be so just stick to that and love him every day."

The family has insurance, but they're still worried about paying their bills with all the trips from Lacey to the hospital in Seattle.

A nurse from Madigan set up a zumbathon fundraiser for baby Joshua at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Fun Fitness in Spanaway.