"She's a tough one," Stacy Lamb said, casting a confident glance at her daughter as the little girl lightly rough-housed with her brother. "She'll beat it."
The youngster flashed a missing-tooth grin back at her mother that made her appear the typical six-year-old. Above the grin were sparkling eyes, and above the eyes was a bright pink ribbon that circled her clean-shaven noggin like a halo-a halo with a bow.
The ever-effervescent little girl is Faith Hartzell, daughter of Eric and Stacy Lamb of Litchfield, and the subject of dozens of "Keeping the Faith" signs of support appearing around the city after she was diagnosed with spinal cancer just over a month ago.
The trouble began when she first started complaining of back pain. Her parents took her to the doctor, and on Christmas Eve, she had surgery at St. John's Children's Hospital in Springfield to remove a four centimeter mass that was pressing on her spine.
After surgery, chemotherapy began-she has had four treatments already-and that will continue for three months. Her progress will determine if more surgery is in order or radiation treatments.
"The most devastating part for me, is when she started losing her hair," her mother said. "Now, she loves being bald. She has been unbelievably strong through all of this."
Faith has an incredible support system at home-mom, dad, two sisters, Lauren and Libby, and two brothers, Andrew and Caiden. Since her illness, that support system has grown to "Team Faith," a group of family and friends determined to help Faith and her family make it through her treatments, emotionally and financially.
Team Faith is already selling T-shirts and bracelets, and is planning several other events and fundraisers. Students at every school in Litchfield will wear crazy hats to school on Friday, Feb. 24, in support of Faith. Skate Zone Day has been set for 5-9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, and a bowling benefit is being planned for April 14 in Litchfield.