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Ridgefield Park-Hasbrouck Heights Daily Voice serves Hasbrouck Heights, Little Ferry, Moonachie, Ridgefield Park & Wood-Ridge

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Little Ferry Mom Fights For Toddler Battling Cancer... Again

Lil Ryu is battling metastatic retinoblastoma.
Lil Ryu is battling metastatic retinoblastoma. Photo Credit: Agatha Okumara

LITTLE FERRY, N.J. — Agatha Okumara of Little Ferry never thought she'd have to see her own toddler fight cancer even once.

But twice?

Only a few months after then-3-year-old "Lil Ryu" was clear of any signs of cancer, the cancer was back — and this time, a more aggressive form in his brain.

*** UPDATE: A toy drive for Lil Ryu is under way , thanks to a Westwood mom and her Facebook group. ***

"It's a constant struggle," said Okumara, who lost her job during her son's first battle and with it, insurance coverage.

Lil Ryu was in the 1% of children to have metastatic retinoblastoma, said Okumara, a Dumont native.

The toddler has undergone a series of surgeries, high-dose chemotherapy treatments and a stem cell transplant.

His numbers are getting better but doctors said he has a 30% chance of survival. And then, he's likely to battle cancer again, and then his survival rate will drop to 10-20%, his mother said.

The costs continue to add up. The more than $27,300 raised on a GoFundMe page isn't nearly enough to cover the transportation to the New York City hospital, the treatment and prescriptions.

Okumara's friends have organized a tricky tray in Dumont on Jan. 28 at the Cavalry Methodist Church.

The family spent Thanksgiving in the hospital. Christmas will be in the hospital and so will his 5th birthday on Dec. 28.

Okumara didn't think they'd even be there for it, and her youngster told her he felt like giving up.

But she says he's a fighter... like his mom.

"When you're a parent and you're in a position like this... you want to do every single thing possible to help your child," said Okumara, who has another 8-year-old son.

"Even if it sounds absolutely ridiculous."

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