Douglas High School student Adriana Figueroa, only 17 years of age, received devastating news on May 24, 2005.
Figueroa was treated at the Sierra Vista Regional Health Care Center, where she had the tumor removed. Within the tumor removed there were three types of cancerous cells. The tumor was the size of a cantaloupe, which was reason for concern.
Due to her illness Figueroa had to undergo chemotherapy, which consisted of 20 sessions, nine hours a day for five days, then she'd return home for two weeks. The chemotherapy was administered at the Tucson North West Hospital, where she spent most of her time sedated during treatment to avoid the symptoms and physical effects of the chemotherapy.
This treatment cycle began on June 20 and ended August 26, 2005.
Figueroa said, "The hardest part of having cancer was going through chemotherapy, I feared the symptoms and I dreaded the thought of losing my hair."
Figueroa is the oldest of three daughters. Her parents, Mario and Mercedes Figueroa, today continue to face the reality that their daughter is recovering from cancer.
According to statistics Adriana is one of the 5 percent of juveniles the get ovarian cancer. Her case is being studied at Harvard University and the University of Houston. With the guidance of these two institutions Dr. Alton Hallum has been able to properly treat Adriana. Adriana's younger sister Alexis, 13, was also diagnosed with ovarian tumors on April 27, 2005. At her early age, she had surgery to remove two tumors in her ovaries and one in the right fallopian tube, which was 15 pounds and caused some deformity that had to be repaired.
The surgery worked well for Alexis, but unfortunately doctors have found that she has elevated cancer cells. Like her sister, Figueroa was also diagnosed with elevated cancer cells. As a result they both remain under Dr. Hallum's care and need to get ultrasounds, pelvic exams and cat scans as part of their medical treatment to avoid any new cases of cancer.
In spite of this bitter experience, Figueroa has felt the support of her family, friends and medical staff.
After her chemotherapy she lost all of her hair and to show support her uncles Luis and Carlos Gonzales, nino Martin Figueroa and cousin Carlos Gonzales Jr. shaved all of their hair. Then when her hair began to grow back they let it grow along with hers to show their support.
Aside from the support of her family, the hospital staff enrolled Adriana in the Make-A- Wish Foundation Program.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.
The Make A Wish Foundation was founded in 1980 and since then its become a very well know, reaching more than 144,000 children worldwide.
Fortunately, Figueroa was a good candidate and eligible for a wish, because she's less than 18 years of age and had a life-threatening condition. The foundation has a network of more than 25,000 volunteers that enable it to serve children with life-threatening conditions. The volunteers serve as wish granters, special events coordinators and fund raisers among other duties.
The volunteers in charge of Figueroa's wish were Liza and Kevin Kushner whom with the help of her parents were able to begin the process of enrolling her in the program.
Soon Figueroa got to make a wish, surprisingly her first choice was a Pug dog which the foundation declined due to policy. The foundation notified her that they would only grant elaborate wishes, something impossible for her to get.
Her wish then became to meet the Cast of "One Tree Hill" her favorite TV show. To her surprise her wish was granted and on Sunday, March 5, 2006 she was on her way to eastern North Carolina to meet the cast members.
The foundation financed all trip, flight, hotel, car rental, and limousine service expenses for the entire family.
The six-day trip allowed Adriana to visit the different sets of the show, but most importantly to meet some of the main cast members. She also got to give the cast members bracelets she made herself and flowers. The bracelets were hand made by Figueroa who said, "I made each bracelet according to their personality on the show, they were specifically color beaded, which they really liked."
During her visit she met Deb Scott-Barbara Alynwood, James Lafferty-Nathan Scott, Hilary Burton-Peyton Sawyer, Bethany Jot Lenz-Haley James, Paul Johanson-Dan Scott, the production, direction, hair and make-up and wardrobe crews.
Unfortunately, Sophia Bush-Brook Davis and Chad Michael Murray-Lucas Scott were out of town and she didn't get to meet them in person.
Surprisingly after her visit Figueroa received great news from Assistant to Producer Beth Crockham. Crockham called Figueroa to tell her that actress Sophia Bush would be wearing the bracelet she gave her on the third season's episode because she felt terrible that she didn't get to meet her.
Aside from meeting the cast members, site seeing in North Carolina, visiting the sets of "One Tree Hill" and being treated like royalty Figueroa received autographed pictures of all cast members and free items like a signed calendar and the show's season DVDs. Figueroa said, "I didn't think meeting the cast of "One Tree Hill and going to North Carolina to visit the set was possible, it's something I'll never forget."
Her family says it's been a wakening experience, something they thought would never happen to them. Mercedes Figueroa said, "I felt that God was testing me as a mother and my faith, but now I know Adriana is going to be ok along with my other daughter Alexis." Now that Figueroa has overcome the illness she says she sees herself as a different person, someone who is stronger thanks to the support of family and friends.
Adriana said, "My advice to others in similar conditions would be to not let the circumstances make you angry or resentful, learn how to cope and use any resource that can make you stronger and triumphant."