PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Four-year-old Jason Castaneda is a fighter.
“He wants what he wants, and you can tell,” his mother said.READ MORE: Triple Shooting In Kensington Leaves 2 Men Dead, Another Injured, Philadelphia Police Say
“He fights everything, that’s why he’s made it this far,” she added.
Born at just 26 weeks — weighing one pound and 10 ounces — Jason is defying all odds.
He survived lung damage, a sepsis infection, and held on when doctors told the Castaneda family he might not make it.
“They said, ‘We can’t guarantee he won’t die on us.’” Jason’s mother said. “And I said ‘OK, I have my faith.’”
And for the next year and a half — little Jason got bigger, and stronger, in the NICU, and PICU at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Delaware, a world-renowned pediatric hospital that was nearly two hours away from their home.
“We’re like back and forth trying to keep my whole family together,” Jason’s father said.
But the family of five was able to stay together, and close to Jason, thanks to the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware.
“But luckily we were able to go to this hospital,” Leticia, Jason’s sister, said. “One of the best ever and stay here in a house where we felt close to him.”
The Ronald McDonald House became a place for the whole family to get away. To escape from the beeping of the monitors, and the stress of the hospital — a place where they could relax, and get support from other families.
“You would meet parents who were crying,” Jason’s mother said. “They wouldn’t judge you ask you why you’re crying because they’re in the same situation.”
After more than 400 days in the hospital, and overcoming so much in his short life, Jason went home.
“He was doing good, doing great,” his father said. “We were happy to have him home.”
But the battle was far from over.
“Next thing you know they’re like, ‘Uh oh, he has cancer,’” his father saidREAD MORE: Car Catches Fire In Old City After Crash, Leaves 1 Person Hospitalized
In 2018 — Jason was diagnosed with liver cancer.
“It was like another nightmare, another fight. and a big fight,” Jason’s father said.
“If God chose us again to fight this with him we’re gonna do it,” his mother added. “No matter what it takes we’re gonna do it as a family.”
And they were able to fight together — once again — while staying at the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware.
“It’s a blessing to be able to stay here,” his mom said.
For Jason’s siblings, Steve and Leticia, it was a place for them to enjoy being kids.
“The house is somewhere to come to feel some freedom, not in the hospital room 24 hours a day come,” Leticia said. “It’s really something we were blessed to have.”
Blessed in many ways. Last year Jason had a liver transplant.
And in his usual fashion, he fought and won.
“If he still made it this far he has a purpose in life,” Leticia said. “He is going to be something great.”
Jason continues his progress, amazing his doctors and family, as he grows into an independent little boy.
“He expresses himself, even though he doesn’t talk, he lets you know what he wants,” his mom said.
Jason’s journey also changes the course of his sister Leticia’s future.
“It’s also life-changing because I’m currently at community college, and studying to become a nurse,” Leticia said. “And I can’t wait to find out what the future holds for me.”
One family — sticking together through the ups and downs. a powerful message of faith and love.MORE NEWS: Crews Battle House Fire In Doylestown, Bucks County
“I feel like everything happens for a reason and our family was chosen for that,” Leticia said.