Buckeye boy, Sammy Puma, loses ability to speak and walk after cancer surgery

Posted at 5:29 PM, Dec 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-09 00:44:39-05

A Buckeye boy is in the fight of his young life against cancer. 

His mother says their family's life changed in an instant when he was diagnosed.

“You come in for tummy trouble for vomiting, and it turns out that you had to have brain surgery," said Kristin Puma, Sammy's mother. 

Sammy, at only 4 years old, is battling medulloblastoma, a pediatric brain cancer. 

Doctors at Phoenix Children's Hospital were able to remove the tumor, but as a result, Sammy has Posterior Fossa Syndrome, where he's nonverbal and immobile, at least temporarily.

His family and doctors don’t know when Sammy will regain those abilities.

“We’re not really sure what he knows and sees and what all emotions he’s feeling," Puma said.

But they are celebrating the small victories--like Sammy regaining his ability to wave and give a high five. 

Puma says Sammy looks up to his father as his superhero--a Phoenix police officer and Air Force reservist. 

But his parents are discovering just how strong Sammy is.

“Even though my son is suffering, he’s smiling, and he laughs, and we’re able to have those moments with him," Puma said. 

The family faces a lot of question marks in life right now: not knowing what insurance will and won't cover, how they'll pay for childcare for their 19-month-old son while they're caring for Sammy and when Sammy will regain his abilities. 

“I’m just trusting that God will see us through, that our community will see us through, and that every time a need arises, that it will be met," Puma said. 

In the meantime, Sammy will be spending Christmas—his favorite time of year—in his hospital bed.

Earlier this week, the Polar Express came to him, bringing him a little bit of Christmas cheer.

“They gave him his first Christmas gift being a bell, and it just reminded me of that magic. We’re not going to lose it," Puma said through tears.

The family has been documenting Sammy's journey in an online blog.