Saudi dad tells heartbreaking story about son’s rare cancer, vows to find cure

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Fate was not on Saudi teenager Yousef Yasser Khoja’s side when a rare type of cancer claimed his life and took him away from his family and loved ones.

Speaking to Al Arabiya.net, Khoja’s father explained that his “son was taken away from my embrace last year.”

Since, Yousef’s father has vowed to find a cure to fight the illness, he said: “I will work hard with centers across the globe until I find a cure to this illness. Any child who survives this illness is a Yousef Yasser Khoja to me”.

On the details of his son’s life, Yousef’s father said: “My 16-year-old son Yousef was a religious and social person. He was loved by all his friends and didn’t suffer from any illness. In July of last year, he said to me ‘Dad, my back hurts.’ So, when I took him to hospital, he underwent a checkup and did an X-ray”.

“Then, the doctor told me that my son suffered from some type of cancer and a malignant tumor. I left the doctor’s room and informed him and his mother with utmost regret. This happened during Eid, but it turned into a tragedy. We then started with the treatment, until he was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer that affects teenagers – it’s one of the most vicious types of cancer.”

Incurable illness

Yousef’s father continued, saying: “My whole family is comprised of Yousef, 16, Yazan 13, and Lara, nine. Our life is simple and beautiful. However, since last July, we went to war with Yousef’s illness and our lives have turned upside down. We started chemo-therapy at a specialized hospital in Riyadh. Still, the size of the tumor grew from 4cm to 7cm, then to 9cm, ultimately affecting his spine.”

“Soon, we took him to France’s Lyon for treatment. After the chemo and radio-therapy, the cancer stopped spreading and was concentrated in his spine and pelvis. Yousef underwent some more sessions only for them to find that the cancer reignited in his ribs, chest and pelvis. At this stage, several cancer centers were contacted to help Yousef, but they all informed that he will not survive the illness. In their eyes, trying anything was pointless.”

With sorrow, Yousef’s father said: “My son suffered from paralysis in the lower side of his body. I saw my son suffer before me and I was helpless. I couldn’t help him. All I could do was pray to Allah. Since then, Yousef underwent a seven-hour-long operation to extract the tumor from his spine. Later, stabilizers were installed and his improvement rate was low”.

“The cancer reached his brain and the bones in his chest, and his chest accumulated with water. In March of this year, Yousef passed away.”

Agony and grief filling his voice, he said: “I will fight this illness my whole life to save children from it. Save them from an illness I consider my enemy. After my son passed away, I contacted all research centers focusing on this illness and I offered to send a biopsy of my son’s samples to conduct research on the prevention and treatment of this disease, and conduct experiments on it.”