Faith's fight against Cancer

OUR SLOGAN: Cancer Sucks Faith Rocks! If you need to contact us, please email: [email redacted] (To keep up-to-date with Faith's current journey, scroll to the "Updates" click on that and you can read those one by one)

BACKSTORY We tried for about 2 years...thought we might not be able to have children. So in February 2008 we grabbed our Bible and studied about having faith in God...we wrote notes and what we learned on our white board...we prayed, and then we wrote down a name: "Faith". By faith we set out to believe that God would not only bless us with having a child, but that she would be a girl so that we could give her the name that God put in our hearts...Well, we tried off and on for another 2 1/2 years and God gave us the gift we always wanted!! Now, she is 19 months old and we never thought we would ever hear that word...

WHAT HAPPENED? Faith is the most beautiful happy little baby girl that anyone could ever know! She's very lovable, has lots of energy, and so much personality. We never had any health issues with her. She was always a happy, healthy baby until one day when changing her diaper, mommy noticed a hard lump at Faith's private area. Her 18 month appointment was the next day (December 19, 2013) and she was immediately sent to have an ultrasound. Doctors were stumped by what it was and next thing you know she was being sent to a Pediatric Surgeon in Los Angeles at Cedar Sinai.

After the results from the MRI we were told that it was a tumor and that it had to be removed, but the doctor said that he was pretty sure this would be a benign tumor because everything else is normal and the location is uncommon.

The tumor was taken out completely on January 13, 2014, and Faith recovered by the next day, back to her happy self!


Then, on January 15, 2014, we received the call: Faith was diagnosed with cancer. Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer that affects 4 in 1 million children per year. The world stops when you hear news like that, especially when it's your only child, and one that came by faith.'s immediate shock and numbness; it is a "what now?" moment.


On January 24, 2014 we met with who would become Faith's Oncologist, Dr. Federman from UCLA.

We thought that he would say the tumor was either fully removed and we're done, or there was just a little left and we would just have to do one more surgery to get that little bit taken out and Faith would be back to normal. Unfortunately he told us that this would be hard. The next week she would be receiving an MRI, PET scan of the entire body, bone scan, and bone marrow aspiration, as well as having a portocath placed in her chest, which would require surgery...oh, yeah, and let's not forget chemotherapy...for 47 weeks!...AND 5 straight weeks of radiation Monday-Friday!

Here is a video of Faith going in for radiation (you can see the machine): 

Here is a video of Faith coming out of anesthesia::


However, the journey of going through 5 weeks of radiation and 47 weeks of chemotherapy, while doing the best we can to prevent sickness or fevers that can send her to the emergency room, possible admission to the hospital, and worst case scenario, but very probable, she'd get transferred from Bakersfield to UCLA if her health is compromised. As she receives the chemo drugs (VA -Vincristine and mainly the "A" Actinomycin), her immune system is at an all time low within about 7 days from having that chemo treatment. In other words, the reality is that the worst case scenario is death from an illness or infection completely unrelated to the cancer. But we will do everything possible to keep her safe and help her through this battle.


We, like every single other person around us is struggling financially. We married in 2006 with each one of us coming off previous bankruptcies, and then after experiencing unemployment 4 times in 6 years, our first joint bankruptcy came. The student loan payments continue and we barely make it each month. We don't go out, don't go shopping, don't have car payments, stopped using credit cards before our bankruptcy, and Heide is very wise in her planning and use of coupons and sales. But even with our strategic budgeting and striving to live below our means, when cancer strikes, the gas, food, lodging (mainly the 5 weeks that Heide will have to stay in extended housing near the hospital while Leo stays in Bakersfield working), and lastly will be all the medical bills that will come and that no matter what we do, we will never be able to prepare for, nor afford.

We hope that through Gofundme, you and our other friends and family will be able to make this just a little easier for us to endure. So we ask for your help, family, friends, friends of friends, and anyone that is moved in his or her heart to give anything to help us. All that matters is that Faith is able to have as normal of a life as possible, that's all we care about.

Thank you very much for all your love, support, and prayers. We all love you very much and are beyond grateful for the help we've been given. Spread our motto: "Cancer sucks:Faith rocks!" (#cancersucksfaithrocks)-follow Faith on Twitter @FaithvsCancer

*We've been informed that some have either had trouble donating through the site or they'd rather do a check. You can call me at [phone redacted] if you'd like to send your donation by mail, or if you are not able to give money but would still like to help, call us-thank you (*****SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE PICTURES*****)

Here are a couple of videos of Faith in the news:


Two surgeries in one month, 4 scans, and two other procedures, plus her first chemo treatment on the last of 4 days at Mattel Children's hospital of UCLA. Talk about a lot for a child to go through, not to mention that she is very small in size. And of course, as parents, we had no control whatsoever, and no matter how much we try to comfort her, she was well aware of all the doctors and nurses and needles was a lot! What else could we do but pray and lean on God who comforts us in all our troubles, gives us strength to go on, and reminds us of unconditional love in the sacrifice of his one and only Son. We were showered by prayers and love from hundreds of friends and family from all over and when we saw that, we saw God; plain and simple. We still struggle from time to time, getting emotional, shedding some tears, feeling anxious, having fear of the unknown and the future, you name it, since anything (bad) is possible, your mind can play tricks on you. At the same time, however, "all things are possible with God", and so we struggle in the battle for our minds and hearts. Now it's time to face the fact that this is part of God's plan and it is still within the words of Jeremiah 29:11-13 "I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart; I will be found by you, declares the Lord." It sounds like Faith having cancer is a complete contradiction of this scripture, doesn't it??...however, not if you know the God we know. It is obvious that God has amazing plans for this little trooper and she will have a huge impact in the lives of many in this world. We believe God will use her to be a huge inspiration to lots of other children and to adults as well. We hope that in the beginning of 2017 or 2018 we will be able to design and buy a T-shirt for Faith, for us, and for our family and friends that want it, that reveal the good news that Faith has fought against and conquered cancer! We look forward to hearing her say "I'm a cancer survivor!"

For more information on Rhabdomyosarcoma, go to: Support and raise awareness for children's cancer by wearing a gold colored ribbon or bracelet (the official color for childhood cancer awareness)


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Leo Villanueva 
Bakersfield, CA
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