2017-03-16 / Youth

Zeke complete

Port Aransas boy completes chemotherapy; celebrates with pizza, fellow BMS students
Dan Parker
News editor


Thirteen-year-old Zeke Ortiz, foreground, feasted on pizza with fellow Brundrett Middle School students on Wednesday, March 1, to celebrate the fact that Zeke had just finished three-and-a-half years of chemotherapy to treat his leukemia. He now is in remission. Zeke’s holding a bell he rang to commemorate his continuing victory over cancer. 
Staff photo by Dan Parker Thirteen-year-old Zeke Ortiz, foreground, feasted on pizza with fellow Brundrett Middle School students on Wednesday, March 1, to celebrate the fact that Zeke had just finished three-and-a-half years of chemotherapy to treat his leukemia. He now is in remission. Zeke’s holding a bell he rang to commemorate his continuing victory over cancer. Staff photo by Dan Parker The entire student body at Brundrett Middle School helped seventh grader Zeke Ortiz celebrate a big milestone in his cancer recovery.

On Tuesday, Feb. 28, the 13-year-old finished three-and-a-half years of chemotherapy. The next day, more than 100 of his fellow students gathered in the school’s cafeteria and feasted with Zeke on pizza donated by Port A Pizzeria.

They also chowed down on cake with icing that spelled out the words “Zeke and Destroy,” a reference to doctors’ efforts to rid Zeke’s body of cancer.

Some students, including Zeke, wore T-shirts that said “Team Zeke.”

The event was put together by the school and Zeke’s parents, Angela and Joe Ortiz.

Zeke now is in remission. He said he feels wonderful.

“Because I’m not taking any more chemo, I feel stronger,” he said. “I can do stuff now. I have a lot more energy.”

Zeke was diagnosed in November 2013 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

His chemotherapy has involved two pills a day and periodic intravenous treatments. It was a tough time for Zeke. Chemo inflicted him with pain, weakness and nausea.

To receive the treatments, Zeke had a device called a Mediport implanted in his chest. Intravenous fluids readily could be given to him through the device.

Zeke couldn’t play contact sports while he had the Mediport in his chest because of the possibility the device could be damaged.

Finishing chemo was a great relief, he said.

“It’s one of the best feelings of my life,” he said. I don’t have to go back to the hospital and get needles put into me all the time.”

Zeke now has a five-year follow-up care plan he must go through. He has to visit an oncologist once a month for the next year; then once every two months for another year; then once every three months the next year; and once every four months during the following year. Then he’ll only have to go one time during the fifth year.

A lot of testing will be involved to monitor his condition throughout the post-chemo period.

His family plans to have the Mediport device removed this summer. Zeke’s looking forward to being able to play more sports after that. Basketball is high on his list of things to do.

For now, with chemo finished, the whole Ortiz family can breathe a little easier, Angela said.

“He overcame that battle, and he did it with a smile on his face every day,” she said. “He was a trooper.”

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