Her Remarkable Reaction to Her Own Self-Portrait Kicks Some Cancer BUTT!!

Cancer and down syndrome aren’t enough to get Celia down.

Her Mom, Katie Furtado, was incredibly worried that people were going to start looking at the 5-year-old differently after her cancer-induced hair and weight loss—but Celia’s squeals of joy upon viewing this picture of herself alleviated all those concerns.

“[Celia] was thrilled,” Furtado told ABC News. “When she saw it, she started screaming and pointing to herself. I think the whole world looks at Celia differently now since she doesn’t have any hair and she’s lost a lot of weight, but I was relieved that Celia still sees Celia.”

The lively girl was born with down syndrome and recently diagnosed with B-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma in April. Now facing chemo treatments that will last two years, this little one has battled more health difficulties in her 5 short years than many have in a lifetime.

Furtado says, “A lot of her personality was put on hold for quite a few months, but like I said to someone the other day, ‘She’s back.'”

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Photographer Laura Kilgus volunteered to take some photos of Furtado’s children last autumn to raise awareness for the Down Syndrome Society of Rhode Island. Since Kilgus has a nephew with down syndrome, she loves to offer the service to various families in the area to support the cause.

Almost a year later, on October 1st, Kilgus hosted an art show for Down Syndrome Awareness Month where Cecilia came face-to-face with the picture of herself for the first time.

Luckily, Kilgus caught that moment too.


Upon spotting the photographed reflection of the girl who looked all too familiar to her, Celia ecstatically pointed and lit up with overwhelming satisfaction as if to say, “Hey I know that girl. And I like her!”

She didn’t see her down syndrome, cancer, or bald head when she looked at herself. She saw straight through to who she was—and that’s what brought her joy.

Celia’s priceless reaction is such a powerful reminder of what the world could look like if we all saw what God sees when he looks at us. Like Celia, he looks at us, and without hesitation says, “Yeah, look at THAT girl. I made her.”

What if we’d let our own childlike faith shortcut critical self-evaluation?

I pose we all take the Celia challenge.

We all have flaws, but what if we could learn to love them instead?

If that sounds a little cliché and overly-optimistic, that’s probably because it is.

We can’t necessarily expect that we change our perceptions of ourselves overnight. All I’m saying is that before you dissect the living daylights out of your next throwback picture—the balding head, the overly plump cheeks, or the off-kilter eyebrows, first say “Hey good-lookin’, That receding hairline means you lived.”

Day 2, you can talk to those cheeks. 😉

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Kelsey Straeter
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Kelsey is an editor at Outreach. She’s passionate about fear fighting, freedom writing, and the pursuit of excellence in the name of crucifying perfectionism. Glitter is her favorite color, 2nd only to pink, and 3rd only to pink glitter.