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10-year-old donates her hair for cancer

Posted: July 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 24, 2012 9:49 p.m.

Fernanda Montoya, 10, left, of Canyon Country, holds locks of her hair that she cut on Tuesday to donate to cancer patients like Silvia Sachez, right, of Canyon Country who was diagnosed with lymphoma.

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Ten-year-old Fernanda Montoya, of Canyon Country, never knew anyone who had cancer, but she knew she wanted to help.

Her father occasionally donates to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the organization sent pictures of its young patients to her home, which moved the little girl.

“I wanted to help the kids with cancer,” said the Mint Canyon Elementary fourth grader. “I want to help fight cancer, and I wanted to help people, too.”

Antonio Montoya, Fernanda’s father and an assistant manager at the Canyon Country Jack in the Box on Soledad Canyon Road, saw his daughter’s desire to help and came up with an idea.

After one of his regular customers was diagnosed with lymphoma, he suggested his daughter grow her hair long and donate it.

Silvia Sanchez, 70, of Canyon Country, lost her hair in May after her first round of chemotherapy.

“The only side effect is a little numbness in my fingers and toes, but they say that’s normal,” Sylvia said, adding that her chemotherapy hasn’t caused nausea, a common ailment experienced by patients. “That and a little fatigue,” she added.

Sanchez frequents the restaurant with Fernando Sanchez, her husband of more than 50 years, after the pair’s daily walk to Canyon Country Park.

“They treat us like family,” she said, smiling. “Everyone knows who we are here.”

The upbeat, energetic Silvia said she isn’t worried about her disease, embracing the attitude that when it’s her time, she’s ready.

And while she said she didn’t want to wear a wig, she was moved by the 10-year-old’s gesture and knows it will help someone.

“I didn’t want a wig, I wanted to be comfortable in my own skin,” Silvia said. “So I wanted to accept the hair, but I don’t feel right keeping it with so many children in need.”

The unflappable Silvia nevertheless shared a spirited hug with her new friend after accepting about 10 inches of ponytail from Fernanda.

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