Destiny Kates has never shied away from difficult jobs or situations.
The 13-year-old from Healdsburg, an experienced competitive gymnast with a background in martial arts, has raised animals on her family’s farm for nearly half of her life. She has been showing them at the Healdsburg Future Farmers Country Fair since she was 10 and puts the money she earns selling or breeding the animals into her college fund.
Even her dreams are challenging – impressed with the gymnastics program – she wants to attend UCLA and hopes to eventually become a surgeon.
“I want to spend most of my time in the hospital,” Destiny said. “Even if it’s just volunteering, I just want to help people.”
It’s no wonder she won’t let cancer stop her.
“When I found out, I thought, ‘It’s just God’s plan,'” Destiny said on May 19, her doll-like hazel eyes flashing. “He does what’s best for me.”
Earlier this month, while preparing two animals she had raised for auction on May 28 at the fair since December, she developed problems with her right leg.
Her mother, Jennifer Kates, said they went to the emergency room at Healdsburg District Hospital after a blood clot in Destiny’s leg seemed to worsen. The girl’s skin was marked with red lines.
An X-ray has captured an image of a divot in her bone, Jennifer Kates added.
Destiny was then sent to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco, where she underwent a series of scans and tests. And on May 6 she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer.
“I don’t think it affected me that it actually happened,” Jennifer Kates said of her daughter’s diagnosis. “We try to keep her happy and keep her strong.”
The family says it will still auction the animals Destiny raised – a sheep named Buttercup, and the teen’s first steer, Peppermint – even though she won’t be there to show them off.
Additionally, the money obtained from this year’s sales will not go to Destiny’s college fund.
Instead, her mom said in a May 11 Facebook post, it will be used to buy Destiny stuff she wants in her battle with cancer.
The family has also set up a GoFundMe page to help offset medical expenses.
For the next six months, the teen will undergo chemotherapy. She will also undergo surgery on her right leg. Doctors say they may have to amputate it if the cancer spreads.
Her parents are focused on supporting Destiny and maintaining some normalcy for her siblings, Michelle, 14, and Travis, 11, despite the changes that have come with Destiny’s diagnosis.
“We’re all trying to do our bit now, we all have to stay strong for her,” said Father Christopher Kates.
Unmoved by what she’s about to go through, Destiny remains focused on the future.
“I’ve always loved taking care of animals. If I don’t become a surgeon, I’ll be a vet, ”she said with a smile.
In addition to her animals, Destiny counts among her favorites the Harry Potter character Draco Malfoy. And, like many teens, she loves to chat with friends on Snapchat and watch TikTok videos.
Asked what she wants to do when she’s cancer-free, she said she wants to live on her family’s ranch in Kentucky, the same ranch where her grandfather grew up, and wanted to breed horses.
Her sister, Michelle, has taken over the care of Peppermint and Buttercup in the wake of Destiny’s diagnosis. She plans to display them at auction.
“I’ve been distracting myself lately by looking after my sister’s animals so they can be auctioned this year,” said Michelle. “But when this is all over, I just want to go for a swim with her.”
Visit ez2bid.com to donate or make an offer for Destiny’s animals.
You can reach Staff Writer Mya Constantino at email@example.com or 707-521-5220. On Twitter @searchingformya.