At 14 years old, he had it all going for him: an excellent student and a talented athlete.
However, R.J. Hijalda, from Lexington, was recently diagnosed with cancer.
There's nothing to suggest he's one very sick young man. It all started last May, with some soreness in his back.
"I thought it was just regular back pains, and I never thought it would be anything like this," Hijalda said.
His family doctor told him to rest. A bump then appeared on his back. It became too painful to sleep on his back.
Then, a bump appeared near his shoulder.
Through the summer and this fall, his mother kept taking him to doctors, trying to pin down what was wrong.
In late October, the diagnosis came. Hijalda has stage four Hodgkin's Lymphoma, with tumors in multiple organs.
"I never though I'd be in this situation, so I was just terrified," Hijalda said.
The chemo treatments have made him sick, very tired, and cost him his hair. However, he has a sense of humor with his many friends.
His strong Christian faith and family support give him hope.
"With my kind of cancer, I know it's treatable, curable, and I can make it through," Hijalda said.
His tumors are now shrinking, and his family has insurance, but the co-pays are in the thousands of dollars now.
A group of R.J.'s friends has organized a run/walk on New Year's Day, with all proceeds going toward his medical expenses.
It will be at Coldstream Research Park. The race fee is $10, but you can donate more.
You can register from noon until 12:45 at the Embassy Suites just before the run.
R.J. says he plans to be there and do some walking.