Faith made fast friends with the hospital staff as well: doctors, nurses, technicians, custodians — any person who interacted with her. To pass the time while in the hospital, Faith would ambush staff with silly string, sending shrieks of laughter down the halls. She taught nurses how to blow bubbles through their noses and insisted on them dancing whenever they entered and exited her room. The oncology staff at Cook Children’s nicknamed her “Fabulous Faith.”
“I know Faith was in so much pain, but she endured everything with such grace and a positive spirit,” remembers Ruth.
A Heartbreaking Loss
After 10 months of fighting osteosarcoma, Faith passed away on June 6, 2013, due to chemotherapy-induced heart failure. She was 10 years old.
One of the hardest realities for Faith’s parents, Ruth and Ken, to process was the fact that the thing that was supposed to eliminate the cancer — chemotherapy — is ultimately what caused her heart to fail.
Before Faith passed away, her family envisioned forming a childhood cancer foundation to raise money and awareness for cancers like osteosarcoma. Now, after her passing, they had to decide whether they still wanted to move forward with the foundation without Fabulous Faith by their side.
Honoring Faith’s Spirit
To honor Faith’s memory, the Lautzenheiser family, along with some close friends, felt compelled to form Fabulous Faith’s Foundation (FFF) to continue the fight against childhood cancer. The foundation serves three aims: assisting families, supporting facilities, and advancing pediatric cancer research. Their pediatric cancer research initiative aims to invest in organizations like the OSI that are conducting groundbreaking research to find cures for childhood cancers.
To this end, in 2023, FFF partnered with the OSI to contribute $35,000 to pediatric cancer research. The foundation staff often uses the example of a cell phone battery to illustrate the urgency of funding osteosarcoma research.
“What do you do when your cell phone battery gets down to 4%? If you are like most people, you scramble for a charger because that is just not enough to sustain,” says Ruth. “Yet, 4% is the amount of the taxpayer-funded National Cancer Institute’s budget that goes toward childhood cancer. An even smaller amount is specifically targeted for the devastating diagnosis of osteosarcoma in children.”
Ruth’s work with the foundation remains motivated by her love for her brilliant daughter. “Faith was different than most kids. Even strangers could tell she was special,” says Ruth.
One of Faith’s friends summed up her legacy this way: “Faith reminds me to love hard, laugh often, and always keep the faith.”