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Stadium merchants aid young cancer patient
Destiny Herrera is flanked by her mother Sabrina and brother Ricky. - photo by Bulletin file photo

Friends in need are friends indeed. The family of nine-year-old Destiny Herrera, who is bravely battling osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, is finding the truth of that adage.

Today, from noon to 8 p.m., old and new friends are rallying behind the Herreras in the form of a fund-raiser that includes a silent auction being hosted by Round Table Pizza in the Stadium Retail Center on Daniels Drive in Manteca.

Other friends who are coming to the aid of the young cancer patient include several businesses at the retail center on Airport Way by the Big League Dreams. They have contributed a variety of items that will be offered in the silent auction held inside Round Table. These include:

• a brand-new chair from OfficeMax,

• hair products and two free haircuts from Supercuts,

• a basket of coffee and traveling mugs from Starbucks,

• yellow T-shirts that Round Table employees will be wearing during the fund-raiser as well as a basket of baseball items from Gametime Gear,

• a $15 gift certificate from Chili’s restaurant, and

• $50 worth of gift cards from Dress Barn.

A local radio station is also expected to provide live air coverage on site.

Destiny’s mother, Sabrina, said they will try and stop by at Round Table during the fund-raiser, “but it will depend on how she’s doing. If we do make it, we’re not going to be there the full time.”

Since Destiny’s immune system is also compromised due to the chemo treatment, “we just have to be extremely careful with going out in public because people carry germs and viruses. If she picks up a virus even from a simple cold, it’s life-threatening for her,” Sabrina explained.

When they do go out on very rare occasions – “she needs some kind of normalcy in life, too” – she said she asks people to “refrain from physical contact with her” and Destiny has to wear a face mask.

“I’m one of those moms that’s very paranoid about it. Other people don’t understand that. Sometimes people want to hug her. Not that she doesn’t want a hug, but it’s not healthy for her,” said Sabrina who proudly calls her daughter “my hero.”

The former Veritas School student, who is currently being homeschooled while she is undergoing chemotherapy, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma 17 months ago.

“She didn’t get to do much schooling because she was always sick. Chemo causes you to be lethargic; she wouldn’t even want to talk. She is getting as much schooling as she can handle, but she’s getting better,” Sabrina said of the older of her two children. Destiny’s younger sibling, Ricky, is seven years old and is also being homeschooled.

The young mother is overwhelmed and deeply touched by the acts of kindness being done for her daughter and her family.

“I think it’s a blessing and I wholeheartedly appreciate it,” she said. “We appreciate all the prayers and the support. It truly lifts my daughter’s spirit. (The fund-raiser) helps a lot because medical expenses are crazy, and insurance doesn’t cover everything.”

She is particularly grateful for the generosity of the merchants who are stepping up to help in today’s fund-raiser because “I don’t have family to help financially.”

As for her daughter’s mounting medical bills, “I just have to work out (payment) arrangements with the hospital and the doctors to pay whatever I can. So I’ll be paying forever,” she said with a laugh that did not completely camouflage her deep concern.

She had to stop working when her daughter was diagnosed nearly two years ago. But last August, she started working again, but only part-time because of the necessary hospital visits.

“They are very nice for working with me and my schedule; that helps,” she said of H&R Block in Modesto where she now works.

Right now, Destiny is being treated and monitored at Children’s Hospital in Oakland and the University of California, San Francisco medical center.

“If her scans are good, then she’ll start post-chemo which is maintenance chemo. If (the scans) are not good, we need to make some big decisions. We may even go to St. Jude (Children’s Hospital) which is in Tennessee,” Sabrina said.

The Herrera family has also been receiving spiritual help to keep their spirits up during this ordeal.

“We have pastors from the School of Ministry in Stockton that come in and pray with Destiny. They come weekly and pray with us. I have to remind myself everyday that God doesn’t give us what we can’t handle,” Sabrina said.