WINCHESTER — After chemotherapy treatments, 2-year-old Autumn Diamond-Morris sometimes feels down, but when her mother Angel Diamond-Morris shows her pigs, Autumn gets happy and excited.
Autumn, who lives in Winchester, was diagnosed March 4 with a rare form of cancer called embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma. There’s three stages of the cancer, which is the most common soft tissue sarcoma occurring in children. Autumn has stage 2.
Diamond-Morris began an online journal on Facebook documenting Autumn’s journey with cancer. Through that, she has received lots of support from pig lovers around the country.
“It really meant a lot, because it’s like these people genuinely care about this child they’ve never even met,” Diamond-Morris said.
Then someone connected her with Peaceful Fields Sanctuary — a vegan farm animal sanctuary in Frederick County — to arrange for Autumn to meet her first real pig.
John Netzel, the sanctuary’s founder, said the nonprofit operation was created six years ago to provide a space for rescued farm animals.
On Thursday, Autumn got to meet Ophelia, a 325-pound pig. She also got to meet goats, chickens, a horse and a donkey. Although Autumn said she didn’t like meeting the pig in person, she did enjoy feeding it multiple times.
When Autumn arrived at the farm, she ran around following the chickens. Within the hour, she was tired out in Diamond-Morris’ arms watching videos on her mom’s phone.
“She loves animals, she’s not scared,” Diamond-Morris said. “She’s a pretty tough, strong girl. She has a very strong personality.”
Autumn’s cancer goes from the back of her nose to her throat to her skull. It hasn’t spread anywhere else in her body, which is a positive thing Diamond-Morris said she’s holding on to.
She said she’s taking everything day-by-day with Autumn and just wants to enjoy her time with her daughter. She added that she believes Autumn can get better.
“When you hear cancer you think of a death sentence,” Diamond-Morris said. “But I’m just really focusing on she’s here for the moment, regardless of whatever happens we have a plan in process.”
Starting in June, Autumn will have to be sedated to get daily proton radiation treatments for six weeks at the University of Maryland. Autumn also has tough mornings from the recent daily chemotherapy treatments, which cause her to throw up. But once she does that, Autumn is able to relax and move on with her day.
“You can tell sometimes she’s feeling pain but she’s still like, ‘I want to play,’” Diamond-Morris said.