Two years ago, Vinny Desautels was inspired to grow out his hair to help cancer patients. (His mother, Amanda Azevedo, a hairdresser, was involved in the cause.) Despite enduring playground taunts and being mistaken for a girl, the second-grader from Roseville, Calif., took it all in stride, says his father Jason Desautels.
But just after donating 13 (!!!) inches of hair to Wigs for Kids, Vinny started complaining about a stinging in his eye. It was allergy season, so his parents weren’t overly concerned. Unfortunately, as the weeks passed, Vinny’s eye got worse and other symptoms began to appear.
According to the Charlotte Observer, the resilient 7-year-old came home from school with a sore knee, and later his parents noticed that his right hip was swollen. They immediately took him to the ER, where an X-ray confirmed the parents’ worst fear: Vinny had a tumor in his pelvic bone.
Subsequent testing revealed that the swelling in Vinny’s eye was also being caused by a tumor. After more MRIs and blood tests, the doctors diagnosed Vinny with stage 4 cancer, most likely Ewing’s sarcoma, which forms in bone and soft tissue.
Vinny starts chemotherapy this week and his family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with mounting expenses. They’ve already raised more than $457,000—proof that Vinny’s own selflessness has truly inspired others.
As for Vinny, he’s staying positive. “As long as we’re there with a smile, telling him he’s going to be all right, he has the same attitude,” Desautels tells the Charlotte Observer. “Vinny is like us—an eternal optimist.”