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Cuban family finds hope in cancer treatment for little girl in Miami

Cuban girl gets cancer treatment in Miami
Cuban girl gets cancer treatment in Miami 02:16

MIAMI - It's only been a week, but a family of four from Cuba finds hope in a new home and treatment plan for their little girl with cancer.  

At Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Southwest Miami-Dade, six-year-old Vanessa Alfonso Lupianez will receive life-saving treatment.

A brighter outlook the family believes in, thanks to Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar.

"Thankful to the Congresswoman because all four of us can be together and go through this process," said Jennifer Lupianez, Vanessa's mom.

For the first time on Monday afternoon, Congresswoman Salazar and this family of four from Cuba meet.

Vanessa, at first shy, warms up and begins to play with her new toys alongside her older brother.  It was a joyful moment after many months of hardship.  

"These are the moments that make all the difference," said Salazar

Vanessa's grandfather, who lives in Cutler Bay, reached out to Salazar late last year, asking for help.  His granddaughter had cancer in her kidney and wouldn't survive medical treatment in Cuba.

"I thought I would lose my daughter," said the mom.  

Salazar stepped in.  Vanessa's family needed Humanitarian Parole.  The case was nearly denied by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

"It changes your life," emphasized Salazar.  "This child could be my daughter."

Back in Cuba last September, Vanessa's outlook seemed bleak.

Doctors discovered she had cancer.  Once they did, the hospital admitted her quickly.  They removed her kidney.  What made it all the more difficult, she was not allowed to see her dad or brother for three months.

"My son got very depressed," said Yansey Alfonso, Vanessa's dad.  "Me too.  Imagine in the street trying to find food, trying to find nourishment.  It was very hard those three months," said her dad.  

The family tells us that doctors in Cuba lacked the medicines to treat Vanessa.  They also refused to share what medicine they gave the girl.  Vanessa was in pain.

Once this news reached Salazar's desk, she acted to get them visas.  

"She's going to die if she doesn't come," stressed Salazar.  "We have the medicine to save her.  And to change the lives of this family."

Eight months after the cancer diagnosis, the entire family now resides in South Florida, arriving last week.

They hug and celebrate now, living at grandads.  In time, they hope to do all the things Vanessa loves to do, cancer-free.

"She spends all her time dancing, singing," said the mom.  "That's what she loves to do."  

Salazar said it was truly a miracle, thanking the state department for working together to make this possible.

Vanessa had preliminary checkups last week and expects to begin a new treatment path soon.

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