Nine-year-old Abby Zittoun is a case study in beating the odds. Over the past four years, she has faced two different forms of cancer, including one that affects only one child in a million. She underwent a 10-hour surgery and has endured months of brutal chemotherapy. She was treated with two different forms of radiation therapy, including a form of internal liquid radiation that left her so radioactive that she had to be isolated for days in a special lead-lined room. She underwent a bone marrow transplant and antibody therapy. Now, Abby is in a 21-day chemo-immunotherapy treatment cycle to address a reoccurrence of cancer in her bone marrow and on her right femur.

Though cancer has ravaged her little body, Abby’s spirit has emerged more kind and loving than ever. “Abby is wise beyond her years,” says her mother, Gwen, “for many reasons. She loves basketball and dancing and arts and crafts and being with her sisters. She’s exceptionally funny, with amazing comedic timing. She’s also a very empathetic person. She draws people to her with her personality and welcoming nature. She’s kind and gentle and a caretaker by nature. That’s why I say she’s wise beyond her years. She’s seen more than any kid her age ever will. It’s who she’s meant to be.”