When Luis Diaz was diagnosed with leukemia at age 16, he never imagined that his daughter would face a similar battle more than a decade later.
Luis’ daughter, Jazmine, then age 2, was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that occurs in bones or in the soft tissue around the bones. Luis and his wife, Jeanette, turned to the same care team at UCLA Health that had treated Luis 16 years earlier. In an unusual twist, the Los Angeles Dodgers played a role in both of their healing journeys.
When Luis was diagnosed with cancer in 2002, he believed his odds of survival were grim, and he resisted going through treatment. His mother, Maria Guadalupe Alvarado, convinced him to seek care at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center after giving up on his first round of chemotherapy at another Los Angeles hospital. Not only did he receive life-saving support from UCLA’s care team, an added boost was when former Dodgers’ pitcher Eric Gagne visited his beside one day and connected with him through their mutual love of baseball. In a roller-coaster-ride of treatment, Luis, who initially thought he had only two months to live, had defied the odds for 17 years as a husband and father to four young children.
Just at Luis’ resilience surprised his doctors, Jazmine’s journey has been one of uncertainty and remarkable progress. Soon after she underwent surgery to remove malignant tumors in her right pelvis, she lost her eyesight and ability to speak. Jazmine remained in a vegetative state for almost four months before waking up one afternoon in November 2018 to ask for a glass of water.
“I spent every day with her, waiting for any sign that showed that she was still there,” said Jeanette Diaz. “That afternoon when she said “agua”, I knew she would slowly come back to be the Jazmine we had before the sickness.”
Since then, she has been on the fast track to recovery: talking, eating, being able to see, and going to physical therapy to re-learn how to walk. Luis and Jazmine now share not only a remarkable story of strength and resilience, but she has developed the same love for the Dodgers as her father by watching Dodger games on television.
The Dodgers invited Jazmine, Luis, Jeanette, Maria Guadalupe, and two of Jazmine's siblings to participate in the opening ceremony at a recent Dodger game—the first the family had attended together. Taking the mound, Luis and Jazmine threw the first pitch together - a symbolic representation of their shared struggle against cancer and a celebration of Jazmine having no evidence of cancer.
This is their day at Dodger Stadium