Dinuba rallies behind 9-year-old battling second Leukemia diagnosis

DINUBA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Two months ago, nine-year-old Judi Figueroa and her family were looking forward to the end of a two-year Leukemia nightmare. She was in remission and was scheduled for one last round of chemotherapy. But a couple weeks after her birthday, Judi started to show familiar symptoms.

"I was back at work, she was back at school and she just wasn't well," said her mom, Imelda Reyna. "Fevers, constantly sick, so we just knew that there was something wrong."

Right when they thought they were in the clear from the first diagnosis (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia), Judi was diagnosed with a different form of the cancer, Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

"Once those words are uttered from a doctor's mouth, you don't hear anything else," Reyna said. "Your mind just stops working and all you replay in your mind are those words - your child has cancer."

So now it's back to more chemo treatments at Valley Children's Hospital. It's an aggressive treatment that requires her to be admitted for multiple days. The next step will require a bone marrow transplant at Stanford with more chemo and possibly radiation, which could be a three to six month stay, something her parents know will take a toll on the whole family.

"Especially now with the new diagnosis, it's just day by day. But there's no holiday, there's no anything right now. It's just let's get through this so we can do it big next year."

What helps is Judi's spirit and determination. From the beginning of her journey, she told the doctors she didn't like them whispering to her parents, saying she wants to know everything that's going on so she doesn't get scared.

"She's the one that lifts us up. She's the one that helps us through everything. Seeing how optimistic she is, it just helps," Reyna said. "She just told her doctor that if she has positive thoughts, it's going to help her get through this and it will help with the bad days. If she has that mindset, that attitude, then you know what, we have to be strong for her."

Support from the community also helps keep the family strong. From messages on her "Judi's Journey" Facebook and Instagram accounts, to a number of events being held in her honor, Reyna says the support is overwhelming.

"The first time around, we were ok to do it on our own. It's overwhelming. Emotional to see everybody supporting us, it's amazing."

Tonight, Helping One Woman is holding a dinner to raise money for the family. It'll be held at the Ridge Creek Golf Club in Dinuba from 6-8pm. Then on Saturday, the Central California Blood Center will be at Dinuba High School for a Blood and Marrow Drive from 9am-3pm.

"Times are not the best right now and it's good to know that humanity is not dead. That there are really good people that are caring and loving. It's a beautiful thing."

Judi is thankful for everything people have done for her and her family. She says she hopes to meet everyone who's played a role. Through it all, Judi's been able to inspire kids and adults. She lives by a few mottos that keep her going, including "fight like a girl."

"Never give up. If you keep a positive attitude, you'll make it," said Judi.

Even though it's such a tough time in life, her mother says there's something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

"She's here. We have her. Despite everything, her little personality's still here, she's tough, she's smart, we're just grateful and thankful to have her in our life. I tell everybody - just hug your kids. Hug them every day. Tell them you love them and just enjoy them."


FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/Judisjourney/?rc=p

INSTAGRAM: @judithmariesjourney
Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.