CARLSBAD — They both lost heroes and mentors, but over the past several months two Sage Creek High School sophomores have reconnected as a way to honor their loved ones.
Mia Humphrey and Zoebelle Hinojosa, both 15, each lost a parent. Mia’s father and Zoebelle’s mother died from cancer within three months of each other in 2018. Now, the friends who’ve know each other since kindergarten have teamed up as part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Student of the Year San Diego fundraising competition.
Although they are not permitted to disclose their current total, the duo has their sights on the San Diego all-time record of $46,000 just three weeks into the competition. The winner receives a clinical trial or research portfolio named after them or their lost loved ones.
“My goal is to get as much as possible,” Zoebelle said. “We’re pretty confident and we’re so close.”
Brad Humphrey was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 2013, but succumbed five years later on Oct. 16, 2018, at age 55. Mia said her father was amazing, active, full of life and “lived in dog years.”
When she learned of her father’s disease, Mia said it wasn’t a dire situation.
In fact, the original diagnosis was Evan “Brad” Humphrey could live with the disease, but then it became aggressive, Mia said.
But now, her cause is to honor his legacy and thanks to his friends, family and others, Mia and Zoebelle are in sight of the record.
“I felt it would be a healing process for me,” Mia said. “He was such an amazing guy. It is kind of in his honor, in his memory and for his legacy to live on.”
Zoebelle’s mother, Cindy Hinojosa, died in July 2018 after a long battle with ovarian cancer and appendicitis. Zoebelle said her mother was diagnosed with stage 1 ovarian cancer, but the surgery to remove the ovaries discovered it had spread to her appendix.
After the second surgery, doctors found the cancer spread even further and began chemotherapy until they could do no more, Zoebelle added. It was an experience she said “you can never unsee.”
So, her freshman year at Sage Creek, Zoebelle and one of her brothers, Shay, started the Cancer Awareness Club to honor their mother and reach out to other students affected by the disease.
During fall 2019, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society approached the club about joining in the cause, Mia said.
Mia and Zoebelle had drifted apart since their grade school days, but they teamed up, joined by a common, yet unfortunate, bond and have charged straight ahead to rack up as much money as possible.
The two named their team “Take a Hike Cancer,” in remembrance of their loved ones’ sense of adventure and outdoor spirits.
“This is an amazing opportunity,” Zoebelle said. “It’s been mind-blowing because so many people have shown so much support. I sent a couple emails to a good amount of people and the responses I’ve receiving … have been so amazing and mind-blowing.”
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.