SAN DIEGO - People across San Diego are mourning the death of 13-year-old Jose Montaño. The South Bay student died Sunday morning after battling a rare form of brain cancer for three years.
"It's been almost like a movie, like surreal, pinch me, I think I'm asleep," said his father, Jose Montaño Sr., from their home near Imperial Beach on Monday evening.
Jose touched the community with his selfless acts. Two years ago, through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he had a playground built for his school.
When he was undergoing chemotherapy, he walked around Rady Children's Hospital with a wagon, giving out snacks to patients and their families.
"We always say, you know, help others and love thy neighbor and all those things, but he was just natural. He was just born that way," said Montaño.
Jose went back into the hospital nearly two weeks ago after complaining of headaches and vomiting.
"We are sad, but at the same time, we are happy to know that he is pain free," said Montaño.
Jose's parents and five siblings are grateful he was able to lead an active life while he battled his illness. He continued going to school and getting good grades.
"He lived to the fullest and left at the right time. He left before things could have gotten a lot worse," said Montaño.
Jose went through 28 rounds of chemotherapy and countless hospital stays and surgeries. His family said he never once complained.
"They would ask him, 'Which arm do you want me to draw blood from?' And he would say, 'Whichever one is easier for you,'" said Montaño.
The family will continue Jose's work.
"I promised my son that his foundation will continue, that his work is not done. It's our turn to move forward with it," said Montaño.
He added that his family is grateful for the time they had.
"For us, the miracle was that he was with us three years after he was diagnosed. The miracle was that he was able to create a foundation. The miracle was that he was able to touch so many people, so many lives," said Montaño.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been set.
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