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Federal Way couple fuels wish for teen with bone cancer | Slideshow
David Padilla smiled.
“I love it — it’s so sweet,” the 18-year-old said as his hands glided across the new ruby red paint of his 2006 Ford Mustang.
Smiles have become a rarity for David Padilla since he was diagnosed with a form of bone cancer in his knee, sarcoma, in October of 2012.
But on Wednesday afternoon, Bob and Linda Bjorneby presented David Padilla with his biggest wish that he could dream up — a remodeled Mustang.
The Bjorneby’s, who own Bob Bjorneby's Federal Way CARSTAR Collision, took about three months to completely strip the paint from David Padilla’s silver car, rip out the interior and make it over with new paint and accessories, including a new stereo system, sequential tail lights and a blacked-out dash with carbon fiber.
David Padilla made his wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions.
David Padilla was diagnosed with bone cancer during the middle of his school year, when he was a senior at Timberline High School in Olympia.
“He was a baseball player, so he was playing a lot of baseball games,” said his mother, Kari Padilla. “He got into a game and he hit a ball and he walked out of the game; he couldn’t take the pain in his leg any longer, so we knew something was really serious.”
After David Padilla was diagnosed, things “rolled really fast,” said his mother, noting he started chemotherapy in the same week.
Once doctors removed the tumor from David Padilla’s leg, his prognosis looked good as the chemo had killed 99 percent of the tumor.
Eight more months of chemotherapy followed, and that’s when David Padilla and his family discovered the dark side of cancer. They lived at the Ronald McDonald House across from Seattle Children’s Hospital and he had to drop out of school.
“It’s like a big hotel with big community kitchens,” Kari Padilla said of the Ronald McDonald House. “When you go to that place, it’s shocking. When you walk in to the Ronald and you sit down for your first meal and you look around at everyone and you are just new to it, it’s traumatizing.”
She said when she looked at the other children, she saw some with feeding tubes and others with missing limbs.
“It’s just like a war zone,” she said, crying. “And then you see, like, is this what I’m going to become? It’s scary.”
David Padilla had to cut his chemo short in May 2012 after the drugs reduced his heart function.
His family went home after that and every three months, David Padilla and his mother go to Seattle Children’s for an all-day evaluation that includes bone scans and heart tests.
Sixth months later, doctors found a tumor in his right lung. After the painful surgery, doctors told him he had a 30 percent chance of surviving the cancer.
Since then, the tumors have also spread to his kidney, shoulder and lung. He currently uses crutches to walk because doctors cut a huge section of bone out of his leg. He said the hardest part of having cancer has been being on crutches.
“That’s the main thing because even if I didn’t have cancer and I was on crutches, it would be so much easier because I could go out and play baseball or work out when I’m stressed and frustrated,” he said.
The second-hardest thing about having cancer, he said, has been watching his friends move on with their lives.
“I planned to go to college for baseball at Tacoma Community College and then I couldn’t do that,” he said, crying. “I was planning on going this year because I thought I’d be walking and doing stuff by now, but that didn’t happen. So the second-hardest thing was seeing kids my age graduate, go to college.”
Kari Padilla said watching her son go through this is her “worst nightmare.”
On Wednesday afternoon, David Padilla, his parents and his siblings got a break from cancer and laughed as they ate hamburgers at Bob Bjorneby's Federal Way CARSTAR Collision.
“This is amazing,” said his father, Dennis, as the Bjorneby’s unveiled his son’s new car. “It doesn’t even look like the same car we bought him. It was worth seeing the smile on David’s face.”
Bob Bjorneby agreed and said that’s why he has partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation for so many years. He tears up as he describes how David Padilla came in to the shop on Wednesday and was so happy that he cast his crutches aside.
“It makes us happy because we know that this guy is just going to smile,” said Bob Bjorneby.
When asked where he was going to drive his car, David Padilla said, “Anywhere — I'm just going to drive."