Criss Angel Takes Family to Disneyland, Explains to 5½-Year-Old Son That Cancer Has Returned
The heartbreaking video shows Criss Angel and his wife Shaunyl Benson sitting with their son in the hospital while helping explain leukemia to him
Criss Angel is making some magical memories with his family.
On Wednesday, the magician shared images of himself with Shaunyl Benson and loved ones including the couple’s sons Xristos Yanni, 10 months, and Johnny Crisstopher, 5½, at Disneyland — one day after opening up to TMZ about how Johnny’s cancer had returned.
In one sweet photo shared to his Instagram Story, Angel’s sons pose alongside Minnie Mouse (dressed in her kitchen-appropriate best) and two other kids. In other snapshots, the illusionist takes a ride on the King Arthur Carrousel, poses with his wife and older son in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle and more.
“Johnny Crisstopher — he got diagnosed with pediatric cancer before he was 2 years old — he’s been in treatment for over three years, he’s been in remission,” Angel told TMZ, “but unfortunately … he had a relapse and he’s going back into the hospital on Monday.”
The father of two also said that he has been spending time having fun at theme parks in California with Johnny before he returns to the hospital. “That’s why we’re partly out here in California, because we take Johnny to Disney[land], I’m taking him to Universal [Studios] tomorrow,” Angel told TMZ.
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Johnny was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2015, and had a brief remission before Angel revealed on Tuesday that the cancer had come back. Both Angel and actress Benson shared a heartbreaking video to their respective Instagram accounts on Wednesday, which showed them sitting with their son in the hospital while helping explain the ins and outs of leukemia — a “bad guy,” as Angel explained to Johnny in the clip.
“Sometimes it makes people feel sad or angry that this happened. It’s okay to feel that way. I’m angry that this happened to you again. That is not fair. Darn that leukemia cell,” a woman at Cure 4 The Kids Foundation told the little boy, as Johnny focused on the learning aids on the bed.
“We gotta beat that guy up and get him out of your body, huh?” she added as Johnny adorably smacked the circular object representing a leukemia cell, explaining that the organization had “some powerful medicines that are gonna help fight and get him out of your body, right?”
“[Leukemia] pushes all these healthy cells out so they can’t do their job — so they can’t give you oxygen to give you energy and platelets so you don’t get bruises,” the woman gently explained further, pointing out different “cells” in front of Johnny. “And white cells so you don’t get tummy aches or sore throats.”
In 2016, Angel opened up to PEOPLE about the moment when he learned Johnny had been diagnosed with cancer, saying he felt “helpless.” The magician also shared that it was difficult watching his son experience the side effects of cancer treatments, which included hair loss and behavioral changes.
“My son is supposed to outlive me. I’d rather it be me that was sick,” he added at the time. “I want Johnny’s future to be long and happy. That kid is just a bundle of love. He’s the truest form of magic.”
During his interview with TMZ on Tuesday, Angel also revealed that he will be hosting an event at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas next year to raise $5 million for children with pediatric cancer. The musician called on the public to help support the event, details of which will be announced soon, he said.
“We just want to thank everybody for their support over the years,” Angel told TMZ. “We want to try and raise five million bucks, so we need your help.”