LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The last day of September marks the end of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. However, for one Lubbock family, it marks the beginning of another round of radiation treatment.
You may have seen 2-year-old Zadee Lopez before, when a picture of her went viral on Facebook earlier this year with over a million likes and half as many shares.
The photo was taken after doctors diagnosed her with stage four neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that attacks the nervous system.
Her mother, Ana Lopez, first discovered this in April when she took Zadee to the hospital for a black eye.
"I couldn't believe what they were telling me," she said. "I was like, 'I brought her in for a black eye and you're telling me she has cancer?' I just broke down."
Zadee's treatments started immediately. She has already been through six rounds of chemotherapy, and left for Fort Worth with her family on Monday to determine if she is ready for round seven.
"There's three tumors that were big," said Rick Lopez, her father, "and then they're widespread on their toes, her forearm, her armpit, her pelvis."
Zadee even had tumors behind her eyes, causing them to bulge out.
"Her eyes wouldn't really shut," Rick said, "so we had to give her eye drops for about a month so they wouldn't dry up on her while she was sleeping."
Ana just wanted to hold her sick child tight, but safety concerns kept her away.
"I was pregnant," she said, "and when she would get that radiation, I would have to stay away 72 hours, sometimes 24 hours, 12 hours, it would all depend."
So Rick had to make some adjustments, first by growing out his beard.
"She would always play with her mom's hair and I would be like, 'She will be right back,'" he said. "I know she wasn't coming back, but she wanted her mom, so just so she wouldn't cry I had to lie to her. And that's why I let this grow, so she could play with it. She won't let me cut it because she still plays with it."
He also had to take off work to be with her at the hospital.
"Just giving her tests and tests, poke after poke," he said. "It was just painful to see her going through all of that. In the beginning we would cry and she would be like, 'What's wrong?' and I would say, 'I'm just happy because you're here.' But really, you're hurting."
Now that Ana had Zadee's sister three weeks ago, they are finally reunited and in Fort Worth together this week. So far, Zadee has responded well to her treatments.
"We're just waiting and hoping that all this is going to pass by," she said, "and we're going to be able to be a normal family again."
Somehow, through it all, Zadee still makes time to sing and dance.
"She's always happy," Ana said. "All the nurses from the hospital that treated her and took care of her, they knew when something was wrong whenever she was sick because she's always up and going and laughing, and making them laugh."
To help Ana and Rick with Zadee's treatment expenses, you can donate through this link: http://www.gofundme.com/984hms