By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (AW) LaTunya Howard, Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs Office
MILLINGTON, Tenn.—Personnel Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Enrique Ramirez, Enlisted Career Progression, Navy Personnel Command expressed gratitude while explaining how the Navy assisted his family during his 4-year-old daughter’s struggle with brain cancer.
“When I needed guidance most, my Navy leadership knew exactly where to direct me,” said Ramirez. “I was fairly new to my command in Japan and six months after reporting, our world got turned around.”
Ramirez was newly stationed to Personnel Support Detachment, Atsugi, Japan, when Arianna experienced a 10-minute seizure. A computerized axial tomography (CAT scan) revealed a mass that was later determined to be a rare, high-grade tumor. Atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor (AT/RT) occurs most commonly in children younger than 2-years old.
According to Memphis’ St. Jude Children’s Hospital website, www.stjude.org, “It can be found anywhere in the brain, tends to be aggressive and frequently spreads through the central nervous system. AT/RT occurs in about one-to-two percent of children with brain tumors, with a 10-percent survival rate for children younger than 3-years-old.”
“We did our research and knew that we should contact St. Jude,” said Ramirez. “My chain-of-command was extremely supportive. They assisted me in getting a referral to St. Jude and granted me leave to care for our daughter.”
“Ramirez’s senior chief called the Early Return Section in the Enlisted Distribution Division and requested that we execute an early return for this Sailor due to his daughter’s unique condition,” said Master Chief Yeoman (SW/AW) Michael Harris, Career Management Enlisted Distribution Department, senior enlisted advisor. “Orders were cut for Ramirez and Arianna was temporarily enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program.”
When the family arrived to St. Jude, they were met by Arianna’s doctor. “This was the same man whose name had appeared on all their research articles,” said Ramirez. “Our confidence and comfort level somewhat stabilized.”
Treatment for Arianna was aggressive and immediate. Her medical team quickly discovered that her cancer had not spread to her nervous system. After a second surgery, four rounds of chemotherapy with stem cell transplants and 31 radiation treatments, Arianna shows no signs of disease.
“I thank God for St. Jude and my Navy family,” said Ramirez. “I’ve always loved the Navy but now I know the Navy loves me. We were able to give Arianna her ‘no-more-chemo’ party a week before her 4th birthday. In September we celebrated six months cancer free.”
Arianna is a frequent face on many St. Jude informational products, for the National Football League Fox Sunday and the Combined Federal Campaign, which started Navy-wide Sept. 1, with over 2,600 charities that federal workers, military and civilians can choose from for annual giving http://www.opm.gov/cfc/. For more information about Arianna Ramirez visit the St. Jude website at www.stjude.org.