Seaside 3-year-old cancer survivor granted wish to be a builder
Posted by Reposted from another publication on Mar 18, 2015
Cancer survivor, 3, granted wish to be a builder
By Kara Guzman Santa Cruz Sentinel
AROMAS >> Before a cheering crowd, 3-year-old cancer survivor Renzo Lombardi rode a bulldozer in his dad's lap Tuesday morning at the Graniterock A.R. Wilson Quarry.
The toddler, cancer free, spent three hours moving piles of gravel and climbing atop heavy machinery, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Renzo was chauffeured from his Seaside home to the Aromas quarry in a 100-ton dump truck, strapped in his booster seat. His day included operating a crane to lift a cylinder and a remote-controlled locomotive to move cars of gravel.
The celebration was in stark contrast to a year ago, when doctors removed a 3-pound papaya-sized tumor with Renzo's left kidney
The family was in the hospital for four weeks, said mother Crystal Lombardi. "One of you is sleeping in a chair, the other one is sleeping in the hallway," said Crystal Lombardi. "And you're just waiting."
Then followed 20 weeks of nauseating chemotherapy, when the family had to change his diapers and clean his vomit wearing gloves, to prevent infection.
In the arms of her father, Crystal Lombardi watched her son climb onto a machine that crushes car-sized boulders. "You need to have something to hold onto, and for us that's our faith," she said.
Before doctors pronounced Renzo cancer-free in December, prayer chains reached across the U.S., said Mike Ventimigilia, Crystal Lombardi's father, and a firefighter for 50 years.
"I'm used to fixing things," he said. "You look at it with the realization, you can't do anything.
All you have is prayer."Renzo's father, Vince Lombardi, said while his son was homebound during chemotherapy, they built a motorcycle together in the garage. He would describe the engine parts and tools to his son, he said. "It was just something to do to keep from going crazy," he said.His son's fascination with machines began earlier though, with streetsweepers and garbage trucks.
"He would know it was garbage day," Lombardi said. "He didn't know it was Tuesday but he'd be standing by the window waiting." Then when Renzo was sick, the family watched "Mighty Machines" DVDs together, which Renzo learned to recite, Lombardi said.
Also a firefighter, Vince Lombardi said he's used to giving, not receiving help. After Renzo's diagnosis, friends held fundraisers, neighbors brought meals and someone even mowed his lawn, he said.
"I'm humbled by what people will do for you — people who don't know you," Vince Lombardi said.
He said he still has a bit of fear at his son's quarterly checkups, but for the most part he's relieved. Watching his healthy son touch and play with the quarry machinery was far beyond anything he imagined, he said.
"We just rejoice in every minute you have now," Vince Lombardi said. "It's a whole new perspective."
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