"When I was in ICU at the hospital, I was just getting ready to give up," said Josh. "They (Mom and Dad) wanted to know what it would take for me not to give up. And I said I wanted a puppy. I remembered that ever since."
It was a request his mom and dad, Brentwood residents Desiree and Brent Maligro, also never put out of their minds despite their son's six-month rollercoaster battle with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), a fast-growing cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
"It was strange because he doesn't remember anything about the first seven weeks or eight weeks of treatment," said Desiree. "But he never forgot the fact that he told us that he wanted a puppy. And that I said OK."
Desiree said that she remembers when the doctors brought their son out of an induced coma for the first time. Barely able to speak and loaded up with medications, he asked his parents, "Why didn't you just let me die?"
She remembers telling him at that moment, "We don't want you to. You have to fight with all your might. What would make you fight this and not give up? What's it worth to you besides your life?"
He whispered, "I really want a puppy."
Desiree remembers telling him, "Anything; I don't care anything. We'll do anything. If you fight this through when you get home, we'll get you a puppy."
Desiree's mom, Carol Graham, said, "When you're sick, it's whatever's in your mind that helps to heal you." For her grandson Josh, the desire to have a puppy is what helped him overcome his strong desire to let nature take its course.
While today marks Josh's eighth week of being cancer free, his previous six-month battle was not easy.
Desiree said that back in September, "He started having what we now know were (AML) signs that lasted through the end of November. By Thanksgiving he woke up and his coloring was a complete ash gray. He had no color in his lips, his cheeks, nothing. And he could hardly get off the couch."
After some blood work on the day after Thanksgiving, the Maligros were told to take Josh to Childrens' Hospital in Oakland. "They didn't tell us what for; they just told us that he was severely anemic."
Within 40 minutes of arriving at the pediatric hospital, Josh had an IV in place and he and his parents received the grim diagnosis of leukemia.