The Center Moriches community has rallied around a local 17-year-old boy suffering from leukemia, raising more than $20,000 to help pay for his treatment.
Marcos Arriola, who had been experiencing fatigue prior to his diagnosis, thought nothing much of his tiredness.
“I took him to his regular physical,” said Sylvia Arriola, Marcos’s mother. “He’s in the middle of his wrestling season, so everything seemed normal, but they sent his blood to get tested.”
For a senior at Center Moriches High School who plays three varsity sports — football, wrestling and lacrosse — alongside the general stressors that come along with senior year, fatigue seems to be common. Wrestling season also requires intense workouts and athletes are expected to add or drop bodyweight periodically throughout the season, which could have contributed to Marcos’s fatigue.
After a while, however, Marcos’s fatigue became a recurring issue.
“The blood test came back abnormal, and we had to do the test again,” Arriola said. “That’s when we went to the oncology department at Stony Brook.”
After a few weeks of blood and tests and finally a bone marrow test, it was discovered that Marcos had chronic myeloid leukemia.”
Arriola then went to speak to Marcos’s teachers and coaches.
“In the beginning, Marcos didn’t want anyone to know he was sick,” Arriola said, “but we told him it was good if his teachers and friends knew…because he would need support. He doesn’t have to go through this alone.”
In an effort to offset costs that leukemia treatment would inevitably have and so that Marcos’s family could be supported financially as well as emotionally, Chris Winslow, Marcos’s coach, set up a GoFundMe page that has already raised $20,293 of its $20,000 goal. All donations will be used for treatment, along with assistance and support for Marcos and his family.
“The community, the school, everyone was incredibly supportive,” Arriola said. “They planned to hold other events, but because of COVID-19, everything was canceled.”
Both of Marcos’s parents worked full time prior to his diagnosis, each holding multiple jobs. With the rapid rise of COVID-19, both his parents now faced complicated work situations. The community support, however, has been appreciated.
“The community has been so good. So many people have reached out and brought food for us because we are not working right now,” Arriola said. “It would be so different if there was no support. He is really blessed.”
Winslow, Arriola’s social studies teacher and coach, said, “Marcos has truly been an exceptional student-athlete…this is the time for us to remember his phenomenal character and be there to support him as a community throughout his process and journey.”
“We want to thank the community, the school, the coach. All the families and friends who reached out to us,” Arriola said.
“Everyday people reached out and were there for me,” Marcos said. “It sounds cheesy but don’t be, like, so hard on yourself. You are going to have your days, and just keep pushing and surround yourself with people who love you and support you, that goes a long way.”