EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — In what was already a non-traditional year for 16-year-old David Hernandez, he was dealt another hardship this summer.
The Burges High School junior heard news that his JV football season was canceled due to COVID-19. Football is a passion of his and he was slated to be a big part of the football program this year.
“We were really excited about his developments. He was going to play a big role for us on the JV team,” said Burges High School Head Football Coach James Routledge. “When we heard about David’s diagnosis, we all just took a step back and just started praying that he would get through his situation.”
And then, in July, he found a bump on his left side. His mother, Christy Martell, didn’t think it was a big deal, but decided to get it checked out by a doctor. It was a big deal.
“His doctor decided to do a CT scan and said they found something on his thyroid,” Martell said.
It turned out Hernandez had a 2.9-centimeter tumor on his thyroid. He was diagnosed with Hurthle cell cancer, a rare form of cancer that affects the thyroid gland.
He had surgery and the cancer is controlled with an iodine blast treatment, his mother said. Never once during his treatment did he complain, she said.
“He’s always been a strong guy,” Martell said. “He doesn’t want anybody to feel sorry for him.”
But lately, she said, the stress of being unable to see his friends and of his diagnosis has been getting to him and he has been feeling down. She’s hoping people can send words of encouragement to help bring him some holiday cheer.
“His favorite holiday is Christmas and with COVID, we cannot do anything,” she said. “I have been thinking a lot lately and I came up with Christmas cards for encouragement for David. I would love for him to receive cards, pictures, small notes in the mail for encouragement.”
Martell said she thinks this gesture would speak volumes to Hernandez.
“A lot of children at this age are more quiet in how they’re feeling,” she said. “It’s not about gifts. Words of encouragement mean a lot more for them because it’s something he can read in private. I’m hoping and praying that these words can help him out.”
You can send Christmas cards to David Hernandez at P.O. Box 17737, El Paso, Texas 79917.