For Julian Cardenas, a seemingly normal 13-year-old boy, last Wednesday began with the daily routine of those who struggle to survive leukemia, the type of cancer that mostly affects children: a blood test in a clinic and preparations for another chemotherapy session.
But then, something special happened: he got a vest embroidered with a Sheriff badge at the height of his heart, took a helicopter ride and participated in other activities with the Angeleno law enforcement agency.
This child, whom until recently only thought he would be another victim of cancer, fulfilled the dream of becoming a sheriff’s deputy and serving his community.
“I’m very happy,” said Julian, diagnosed with leukemia last February 24, while at the Sheriff Station in City of Industry, where he was sworn to be a child agent for a day.
“When I knew what would happen today, I could barely wait,” he said excitedly.
The plan for Julian to become a hero of flesh and bone came about on May 3, when the deputy Sheriff, Marianne Oliver, went to the child’s home in La Puente after his health deteriorated. Upon returning to the station, she asked her superiors what they could do for the boy.
They carried out the project eleven weeks later, emulating the emotional story of Scott Miles, a boy who fulfilled his desire to be Batkid for a day with the complicity of thousands in San Francisco, in 2013.
Before 9 a.m., Julian came to the Sheriff Station in City of Industry in a sport car fitted out as a patrol vehicle. “Hello,” greeted Julian, while exiting the vehicle and seeing a crowd of reporters.
“Look, you’re important, you look like a commander,” said his mother, Irma Cardenas.
Visits to the emergency room are a routine for the Cardenas family, due to Julian’s poor health. Last Wednesday, he had a scheduled chemotherapy session that would’ve kept him the hospital for five days, but doctors postponed it due to the activities that the Sheriff prepared for him.
“Your perseverance in difficult times shows us a lot about your character, you’re a real-life hero,” Mark Radecki, Mayor of City of Industry, told Julian before honoring him with an award.
In addition to an air tour, the Sheriff’s Department allowed him to meet with members of its Special Weapons and Tactics team (SWAT), take a ride on a fire truck and participate in a shooting practice simulator.
“Today is a day in which we want to honor Julian because law enforcement officials also have bad days,” said Tim Murakami, captain of the Sheriff’s Station in City of Industry, referring to a relapse that the boy had in May and required the intervention of the agency.
With tears, Julian’s mother, originally from Jalisco, thanked the courtesy of the corporation and said it is of a great help in her child’s healing process.
“Right now he does not remember if he has a headache or if he’s hungry, he is very happy, he finds a meaning to his life, he feels that he exists, because he used to say he had cancer and was going to die,” she said.
Dressed with a Sheriff’s vest, Julian shared that during his frequent visits to hospital he encourages other children who also have cancer. “I tell them to fight, that life is beautiful,” he said.