RANCHO MISSION VIEJO (CBSLA) — Lynden Smith is not the typical Rancho Mission Viejo 7-year-old.
Last summer, after seeing an advertisement, Lynden decided to cut her hair and donate it to Locks of Love — an organization that takes hair donations and makes wigs for children who have lost their hair due to illnesses like cancer.
"She's just always had a really big heart," Amanda, Lynden's mother, said.
But this past July, it was Lynden who was in the hospital after a spot found on her back was found to be a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Denial and shock and anger and just grief," Dan, Lynden's father, said.
But Lynden just asked her mom if she could start putting money into the box at McDonald's for children with cancer.
"I said, 'Yeah, I can do that,'" Amanda said.
Lynden endured six rounds of chemotherapy, so her mom came up with a crafty, caring distraction that helped even during week-long hospital visits and on her hardest days.
"We thought maybe we'll sell 26 to 50 bracelets to family members," Amanda said.
But family and friends soon banded together for Lynden, with silent auctions and lemonade stands featuring the bracelet. And soon after, Lynden was filling orders, and hearts, around the world selling her bracelets on her website and through social media.
"The thing that touches me most is just the goodness of people," Dan said.
In just two months, Lynden had raised more than $34,000 for pediatric cancer research.
And the good news doesn't stop there. At a recent hospital visit, Lynden's doctors said the two tumors in her chest are gone.
And while there are still treatments left and the possibility of relapse, the Smiths are constantly reminded that they — and hundreds of others around the world — are Lynden Strong.
"We're running low on beads, and two days later Amazon Prime shows up with beads that people have purchased, people we don't even know," Amanda said.
But the Smiths say their support of pediatric cancer research will not end with Lynden's final treatment. With only 4% of federal cancer funding earmarked for childhood cancer, they said this is a role they will always embrace.
And as for Lynden, when she grows up, she said she wants to be an oncology doctor.
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