“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.” – Winnie the Pooh. Just like Winnie the Pooh, Zamora Moon was a sweetheart, but also a tough cookie. When diagnosed with DIPG at the age of seven, she was told she had two months to live because her tumor was so large. Zamora began with radiation and was then offered treatment in New York however, Marisa Martinez, her mother, felt that was not the best path for her.
Soon after declining this offer, Marisa heard of a treatment called convention-enhanced directive or CED that occurred in Bristol, England. CED is a treatment where a device is placed in the brain, so chemotherapy can be delivered directly to the brainstem and not pass through the Blood-Brain Barrier. Doctors in the United States believed there was no way for Zamora to be accepted. Despite what she was told, they applied everywhere they could, but Marisa was told there was no room for Zamora, so they unfortunately kept getting denied. As a determined mother, getting rejected would not stop Marisa, she never gave up on her little soldier. Marisa kept sending Zamora’s images and never stopped calling, texting, and emailing. She would do it all day every day to give her daughter a chance.
Then one day, Marisa got a call that a spot finally opened for Zamora! All she had to do now was send them new images of her brain. Sadly, those images showed necrotic tissue in the pons, making her ineligible to go to Bristol. The fight was not over, as Marisa began giving Zamora oils and herbs to help her. While waiting for her next treatment, Zamora continued consuming the oils and herbs given to her. She was doing everything she could to improve her condition. Zamora’s next stop was Germany, and this is where her next treatment began with immunotherapy using a type of bird flu that attacked the unhealthy cells and ate the cancer cells in Zamora’s brain. This treatment allowed her to improve significantly as her mobility improved and her eyes began uncrossing. The MRI came back, highlighting the improvements that showed that the tumor had shrunk and the necrotic tissue was gone! Marisa gave the images of her MRI to England again and Zamora was eligible for CED. However, at this point there were too many people in front of Zamora for the trial. Despite this roadblock, Zamora continued to improve and she was even able to go back to school full time. She was able to be a kid and have fun, play with her friends, sit in a classroom, and socialize, all while functioning normally. During that time, Marisa continued to email Bristol asking if anyone canceled and that they were ready to up and go whenever something became available. They traveled to Germany four times while waiting for Bristol to say yes. Finally, a space opened in Bristol, leaving them with great hope. When they arrived in Bristol, they had such a fantastic time. Soon after arriving, Zamora received her CED surgery, and it was deemed a success!
Shortly after the surgery, Zamora was unable to walk due to neurological issues. Eventually, the tumor spread and therefore a second treatment of radiation was done. Zamora improved allowing her to be able to talk again and Marisa contacted Bristol to do another round of CED. Zamora responded well to treatment and she was able to stand again! They decided to stay in London and Zamora began homeschooling. They went back to immunotherapy, but this time the treatment was too hard on her brain. Fighting for her life and doing everything she possibly could, things took a turn for the worse. Zamora was ordered one last MRI and she was told that she only had one week left to live. With that news, Marisa decided it would be best for Zamora to be around those she loved, and those who loved her just as much. Eventually, she and Zamora moved back to the United States. After the move, their sweet angel Zamora Moon passed away in her home surrounded by her dogs and family. She will always be missed and remembered. Zamora and her mother showed us to fight for those you love. To never give up. Zamora fought until her last day, and for that she has shown us that was strong and determined.