STATEN ISLAND, NY – The Davalos children of Westerleigh, who range in age from 6 to 13 years old, lost both of their parents to cancer within eight months.
Carolyn Justiniano, 47, who has battled breast cancer for the past 17 years, died March 17 after contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19), said Denise Morales, her sister.
“COVID affected her lungs and she started to have breathing problems. The cause of death is listed as cancer. Her liver was failing before she got COVID, ”said Morales. “I think COVID may have shortened her life; the cancer had already spread. “
Justiniano’s husband, Pablo Davalos, 47, died of leukemia on July 20, 2020, Morales said.
“My sister and I were very close, and it hurt so much that she and my brother-in-law died so close to each other,” said Morales.
“Our family was always together … It was so difficult because I saw my sister at her highest point and her lowest point. But she was a great fighter to always go through with what she did to maintain a positive outlook and be strong for her kids, ”she added.
GRANDMOTHER TO RAISE CHILDREN
Since the loss of their mother, the Davalos children – Leanngelisse, 13; Ethan and Emilielyn, 10-year-old twins, and Illanisse, 6 – are cared for by their 67-year-old grandmother, Evelyn Justiniano, who Morales says is trying to become their legal guardian.
A family friend recently set up a GoFundMe page to help Evelyn Justiniano with the costs of raising the children, as well as with court costs to obtain legal custody of her grandchildren. As of Sunday night, $ 22,950 was raised by the family.
In addition to the death of their parents, the Davalos children also recently lost their cousin to COVID-19.
“My older sister’s son, Derek Timothy Peralta, who was 28, died of COVID,” said Morales. “Our family is devastated.”
And the close-knit family said their main concern is to help the Davalos children deal with their grief.
“My heart is with my nieces and nephews because they have been through so much,” said Morales, who also lost her stepfather, Victor Maldonado, in 2019. “We all mourn, but our main focus is the children.”
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