Vinny Desautels first learned about cancer when his mother, a professional hair stylist, volunteered to help cancer survivors style their hair for a gala. She explained what cancer is and how sometimes people lose their hair when they're trying to stop cancer.
When Vinny heard what his mom was doing to help, he wanted to help as well. Vinny chose to grow out his hair to donate to kids who lost their hair during cancer treatments.
Vinny, the "eternal optimist," was delighted to do something to help, even though he sometimes got negative comments from strangers. His father, Jason Desautels, said that people often mistook Vinny for a girl, but Vinnny "always took it like a champion" and would good-naturedly respond, "Nah, I'm a boy."
After two years, it was his turn to sit in his mom's styling chair. She cut off 13 inches, leaving only a little tuft a hair on his head. Vinny was "ecstatic."
Amanda Azevedo wrote on Facebook: "I am so proud to call this little man my son. He has been growing out his hair for the past 2 years and I had the privilege of being the one to cut it for him. He's been teased and mistaken for a girl several times but he stuck with it because he knew it was for a good cause. Vincent, I love you to the moon and back. You are the most selfless 7-year-old I have ever known."
Vinny excitedly put his locks in an envelope and sent them off to Wigs for Kids to be made into a wig for a kid with cancer.
What Vinny didn't realize is that he, himself, was a kid with cancer.
The day Vinny's mom cut his hair, he'd been trying to ignore a persistent stinging in his eye. It was winter, and allergies were flaring up, so his pediatrician had prescribed Benadryl. However, the medicine had no effect.
It wasn't until Vinny came home from school complaining about a pain in his knee that his parents discovered swelling in Vinny's right hip. They took him to the emergency room. After an X-ray, the doctors discovered a tumor in Vinny's pelvic bone. They did more tests and diagnosed the swelling in Vinny's eye as a tumor as well. He soon began chemotherapy treatments to stop the cancer. The boy who had donated his hair to kids who lost theirs to cancer, now lost all the hair he had left.
It was a hard time for Vinny and his family. His mom was pregnant so couldn't go to radiology treatments with him, and his dad had to take time off his job at a farm equipment company.
Azevedo said, "We're very thankful, but I don't want to lie to people: The circumstances are terrible. I'd rather have healthy kid."
It took nearly a year, but her wish came true.
After 14 rounds of chemotherapy in 11 months, Vinny completed his treatment and was declared No Evidence of Disease on March 23, 2017.
Vinny's parents say that throughout everything, Vinny did his best to keep a smile on his face. They call him the "eternal optimist." They were excited to celebrate his ninth birthday in September and look forward to see him grow up to become a "video game designer."