‘I’ve never seen her smile like that’: Wishes come true for an 8-year-old local girl battling cancer

Dec. 31— Delilah Love Loya just wants to be like other kids.

The 8-year-old Bakersfield girl dreamed of twirling and dancing and shaking colorful pom-poms like a cheerleader. It’s really fun, Delilah explained in a recent phone interview, because she gets to jump around.

But cheerleading practice didn’t go as planned.

Keeping up with other energetic performers proved challenging for her. A cancer diagnosis at age 4 sapped her energy and destroyed her tiny body.

So, cheerleading was not an option.

But the local girl’s wishes came true when the Los Angeles Rams football team invited her to be a cheerleader for a day earlier this month.

“She had the biggest smile on her face,” her father, Irvin Loya, said of seeing his daughter cheer at the game. “I’ve never seen her smile like that.”

Dalila fell off her bike four years ago and her legs won’t stop hurting, explained her mother, Samantha Loya. Doctors attributed the pain to “growing pains” and prescribed Tylenol, she added.

But the terrible pain did not go away. Many hospital trips later led to a diagnosis and confirmed the parents’ worst nightmare: Delilah had stage 4 neuroblastoma, which was 95 percent in the bone marrow.

“We had no idea what to do,” said Samantha Loya. “We just cried.”

The hospital trips began. The Loyas commuted back and forth between Bakersfield and Los Angeles.

“She’s going to have to fight for her life,” Samantha Loya remembers doctors telling her.

Delilah has undergone dozens of chemotherapy treatments – so many that her mother often loses track. Every time remission seems imminent and their hope blossoms, it is driven away by Delilah relapsing.

“Her cancer is just very aggressive,” Samantha Loya said.

The constant pain prevented Delilah from enjoying a normal life. Play dates with friends are canceled and activities like cheerleading become a distant dream.

They pray to God to help them find strength to start these battles. But the constant pain and missed life weigh heavily on Delilah, her mother said.

“She’s not the same Delilah we once knew before the cancer,” Samantha said.

An opportunity otherwise unattainable for the 8-year-old girl revealed itself to Delilah.

“It was so exciting,” Dalila added.

Cheerleaders “made my heart happy”

Delilah had no idea what that special day December 4th held for her.

An online influencer known for creating random acts of kindness for strangers reached out to Samantha Loya to create an unforgettable experience for the 8-year-old girl.

They bounced ideas back and forth and finally decided to make Dalila’s biggest dreams come true: to be a cheerleader.

Isaiah Garza, the influencer who helped Samantha Loya, posted about the experience on social media, and amassed 10 million views for the video.

A special light enters Dalila’s eyes after she hears about being a cheerleader in Garza’s video.

“She had such a spark of life and light in her that was brought out that day,” Samantha Loya said while reflecting on that day.

Delilah was blindfolded and greeted with L.A. cheerleaders. Rams shaking their pompoms and expressing their excitement for her to be there. They also gave her a locker meant for Delilah and custom uniforms, according to Garza’s video.

“It made my heart happy,” said Delilah.

Father Irvin Loya teared up watching his daughter perform the routine at the Inglewood stadium along with others.

“It was amazing,” Irvin Loya, 32, said. “I have never felt so much happiness in my heart like this.”

Ishani Desai can be reached at 661-395-7417. Follow her on Twitter: @_ishanidesai.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *