Nearly 5-pound tumor removed from 10-year-old California girl who then beat ovarian cancer

Byby Amanda del Castillo KGO logo
Thursday, August 2, 2018
Nearly 5-pound tumor removed from 10-year-old South Bay girl
It was a South Bay mother's intuition. She knew her daughter wasn't just suffering from bad stomach aches.

SAN JOSE, California -- When it comes to mother's intuition, Miriam Villanueva from San Jose has all of that and more. The mother of two noticed her daughter Destinee, 10, was acting strangely, and was complaining about constant abdominal pain.

Multiple trips to the hospital gave no explanation for the pain her young daughter was dealing with.

In March, the Villanueva family took a vacation to Universal Studios. They didn't have any knowledge of the wild ride ahead. Destinee told sister station ABC7 News she felt such pain during that trip.

"I just didn't want to say because I didn't want to ruin everything," Destinee said. "So I kind of just kept it to myself."

Destinee couldn't hide the pain for long, and the pain grew worse.

The family attended a wedding, and instead of watching Destinee out on the dance floor, they found her sleeping.

Miriam insisted the family rush to the emergency room. She told ABC7 News she wasn't going to leave the hospital without an explanation and without a CT scan.

Doctors notified Miriam and her husband, Jovani, about a nearly 5-pound, stage 3 malignant cancerous tumor growing in one of Destinee's ovaries.

The tumor ruptured and was leaking cancer cells to the girl's stomach. Miriam said doctors suggested emergency surgery and chemotherapy, optimistic about Destinee's recovery.

"It sounded so easy at the moment," Miriam said. "But the moment they mentioned chemotherapy, I knew what was coming."

Chemo treatments had taken a toll on the 10-year-old, who was later diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

"The minute Destinee was diagnosed, I stopped working," her mother told ABC7 News.

Without work, the mounting medical bills added to the Villanueva's misfortune.

Shop with a Cop Foundation of Silicon Valley created a Go Fund Me page for the family to help with the burden. The Villanuevas often volunteered for the organization in the past.

"As a father, you feel powerless," Jovani Villanueva said. "To not be able to help the way you would want, or to be able to take that sickness away from her or at least get it out of her body."

Destinee battled ovarian cancer from April 20 until just this week.

Her mother shared the good news, "Monday, July 30th, she was actually cleared."

Destinee explained she was able to stay positive throughout treatment because of her family. Both parents shaved their heads in support of their daughter, who was up against a serious sickness.

Destinee also said she noticed many others were in worse situations. "Being a 10-year-old and going through this isn't easy," she said. "In the hospital, I would see 3-year-olds or 5-year-olds going through it. I would be like, it's even worse for them because they're even littler."

For now, blood work is still required every month, CT scans and MRI's are required every three months, and Destinee will have to remain on a strict and healthy diet.

On Tuesday, she was back to her old self, smiling and dancing to Drake's song "In My Feelings."


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