Mar 10, 2019 Latest post:
Apr 25, 2020
Anybody who knows Gustavo will tell you he’s a lover. Whether it’s volunteering with sick kids at the Ronald McDonald house, tutoring his peers in Spanish, or playing with his little sister Jamie, he always finds a way to make those around him feel cherished. But the thing about Gustavo, is that he is a fighter too.
Gustavo came to the U.S. from Chile when he was four years old to receive treatment for a 1/million genetic disorder known as cloves syndrome which causes his left leg to grow uncontrollably. His mother, only 24 years old at the time, didn’t speak any English, yet she never let the language barrier slow her down. Soon after arriving doctors told them they would have to amputate Gustavo’s foot. Mirroring his mother’s determination and strong will, Gustavo worked with his team at Mayo Clinic to get up and moving. Following the initial amputation, Gustavo needed almost yearly surgeries to help keep the size of his leg down receiving as many as 100 stitches at a time.
Despite the physical strain on his body, and the mental strain associated with hospitalization, Gustavo developed an unrelenting positive outlook on life. He soon became known by his classmates for his big smile and witty jokes. His friends would often remark that it was hard to see Gustavo as sick, when he seemed to be enjoying life more than most. Gustavo graduated from Mayo High School in 2014 with honors and enrolled at Gustavus Adolphus College that fall.
While in college Gustavo joined a multicultural fraternity committed to promoting diversity on campus. He volunteered with events on campus to help feed local homeless populations and worked in the social science lab documenting the brain’s response to music. He worked hard, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychological science in 2018. At college, Gustavo also met Matti, who after a year of persistent flirting agreed to a movie date with him. They have now been together for three years and recently moved to Chicago where Matti is in graduate school.
Gustavo had intended to pursue a graduate degree in clinical psychology with the goal of helping sick kids to cope with the strain of chronic illnesses and hospitalization. He was working on applying to jobs when he developed a cough that wouldn’t quite go away. After much investigating and failed treatments for pneumonia we got the news. Angiosarcoma. A rare and aggressive form of cancer that was not only in his lung but spread throughout his body. The doctors estimate without treatment that Gustavo likely has 6 months. Ever positive and determined Gustavo has decided to pursue treatment that may extend his life, but has expressed worry about the financial strain that this may place on his family. (Gustavo’s little sister Jamie adores him, and he adores her. The two of them and his parents, Patty and Dave, are as close as they come).
We appreciate every single note and word of encouragement....they mean more than you will ever know. If you would like to donate directly to the family click on the "Ways to Help" link above to get to the GoFundMe campaign. (Note: Donations to Caring Bridge (tributes) go towards supporting the Caring Bridge foundation). Don't feel obligated as your thoughts and friendship are more than enough!