Children have the purest of hearts — even if they experience pain, they can still find in themselves the goodness to fulfill small acts of kindness, whether toward friends, family, and even strangers. Such is the case with Aedan Pio, a 9-year-old boy diagnosed with Chordoma, a rare type of cancer that occurs in the bones of the skull base and spine. Despite the young boy’s illness, he still found the strength to help frontliners in hospitals to aid their fight against COVID-19.
Back in 2018, we featured Pio’s story and his journey of finding a “real father.” His mom, Gem Zapanta, told us then that Pio was 4 years old when he was diagnosed with the disease. According to the Chordoma Foundation, only one in one million people are diagnosed with this type of cancer. In Pio’s case, the bone tumor surrounded his brain stem.
Gem was told that her son was on borrowed time, but two years later, Pio is continuing to fight his prognosis. One thing that is helping him get through the challenges is his passion for painting. In 2015, Pio’s aunt helped him sell his artwork for the first time and this helped pay for his surgery.
“Noong nagka-surgery siya ulit, doon na kami nag-start na mag-exhibit tapos naging fundraising siya. At first for himself lang, pero nung Christmas noong year na ‘yun, nag-start siya mag-give back — ang una [na recipient], Charity Pediatric Ward ng PGH (Philippine General Hospital),” Gem explains in an interview with Summit Videos.
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Since then, Pio has been painting and sharing the proceeds to charities and hospitals. And now that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, the little boy chose to help frontliners. He was saddened to hear that doctors were dying because of the lack of personal protective equipment, especially in PGH, where he gets his treatment.
Pio wants to send a message to doctors and frontliners to keep on fighting, just like how he’s battling his disease. He hopes that by selling his artworks, he can help them even just a little.
“Kahit pagod na sila, ‘wag silang susuko dahil nandito lang kami tutulong sa kanila at ‘pag sumuko sila, ano na mangyayari sa’tin,” he says.