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Monday, July 4, 2022

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Extraordinary Girl – Cassidy Gonzalez

Energetic. Inspiring. Strong. All these words describe 10-year-old Cassidy Gonzalez, a Girl Scout who loves baking, cheering, dance, school and softball. But those things had to be put on hold last year. She had a surgery to get rid of what were originally thought to be polyps but, in June 2010, she was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in her nose called rhabdomyosarcoma.

Cassidy says she got through 43 weeks of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation because “of faith, love and support and the wonderful doctors at All Children’s Hospital.” Her family and friends, including her parents, brother A.J., cousins, and poodle Lacey, were there for her every step of the way. Her school also was very supportive and along with her Girl Scout troop, they organized a walk to get behind her and other children with cancer, raising more than $14,000 for the Children’s Cancer Center in Tampa.

Despite her world being turned upside down, Cassidy’s still an extraordinary 10-year-old. She completed fourth grade with honors, participated in a dance recital and walked with Rays pitcher Jake McGee in a fashion show to benefit the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Now cancer free, Cassidy looks forward to a happy life and “will never forget how much everyone” did for her. 

What makes you happy? Why?

My family and friends make me happy. My family did everything they could to make this year tolerable. They never left my side. They played games, read to me, encouraged me and cried for me and with me. My friends sent countless letters of encouragement and love, big banners and care packages of games and goodies to the hospital. They helped raise money to support me and other kids with cancer. My friend Sabrina gave me a cute stuffed animal to hug when I got scared. I took it with me to chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I was never in the fight alone.

Who is your biggest inspiration or role model? Why?

My mom because she helps me and others all the time. When I was diagnosed last year, the doctors told me I was not going to be able to go to school. I was crushed. I couldn’t imagine a year without friends and school. My parents made the decision, along with my school administrators, to keep things as normal as possible. We had a nurse come talk about what I was going through and once my teachers and friends understood they treated me like normal. I went to school on day’s I felt good. My mom would hang out with the nurse in the beginning, but once I felt okay she would leave.

What is your favorite thing to do with your family?

I love to travel with my family. We enjoy being together and trying new things. I celebrated being cancer free by going to Disney World. My family spent a week in Orlando. We went to a different park every day. I rode every roller coaster, some twice. I even got my grandparents on a ride or two. It was a blast!

What advice do you have for girls your age?

Be yourself. Don’t let people talk you into doing or being someone you’re not.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I would like to go to USF and be a softball player. I wasn’t able to play softball during my treatment but my team kept in touch with me and sent me the coolest handmade book to help me pass the time in the hospital. 

What is your favorite way to relax?

Sit on the beach under a canopy and watch the waves.

If you could change the world in one way, what would it be?

I would want people to be kind to each other. Don’t be in a rush all the time. Be happy you are living another day.

What does Girl Scouts of America mean to you?

It means community, support and family.

What is your favorite experience?

It’s camping. I love to spend time outdoors, riding horses, learning archery, cooking meals with my friends and building campfires.

What message do you want to share with other girls and families?

Never give up!

Tell us about your community projects. 

This year we helped support The Children’s Cancer Center in Tampa. We raised money to send kids with cancer to a special camp. We also decorated the cancer center over the holidays. We spent time making ornaments and decorated the multipurpose room with Christmas cheer. We also sent decorations for Thanksgiving and Easter. Our troop really enjoyed helping the center.

 

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