On June 3, 1999 we were blessed with the birth of our bold and beautiful rainbow…Maya Marie. Maya was, at 2 years, 9 months, the picture of health. She was strong, fast and a ferocious climber. She was an athlete in the making, although she would surely insist I rephrase that and say… dancer in the making. She had a deep love of horses and dreams of being a “real princess” one day. She bubbled over with an energy and enthusiasm for life that constantly reminded you to live.
In February 2002, Maya began complaining of stomach pain and we were told she had a virus. After several days, Maya’s condition seemed to be deteriorating and she was becoming increasingly lethargic. Blood work revealed that Maya’s platelet count was extremely low and we rushed her to St. Mary’s hospital in West Palm Beach. It is there that we learned the devastating news that she had leukemia. Like Maya, her cancer had a mind of its own, maturing and developing into a strand of Leukemia that was unknown. It was decided that the best place to treat Maya would be at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
There was no treatment plan nor protocol available that was known to treat, let alone cure her cancer. Maya was amazingly accepting of her disease. She adapted to life away from home and spent day after day in the hospital doing what she always did best…loving, laughing, singing, dancing. On the days when the chemo really knocked her down, it was snuggles galore! After almost 4 months of treatment, Maya was in remission and she could receive chemo back home. 7 months later her Platelets were steadily dropping and in March 2003 we were informed that Maya had relapsed…
When we told Maya, now one year older and many years wiser, that her cancer was back and we would have to be away from home again she simply said, “That’s okay, my friends are at St. Jude’s.” Maya knew that her battle with cancer was far from over and there would be many more “ouchie’s” and “yuckies”, but she embraced each day with love and determination and a healthy dose of “It’s my way or the highway!“. She lived her life, and fought her battle, with a spirit full of life, a heart full of love, and a laughter full of joy.
One month after turning 4 Maya received a Bone marrow transplant. 47 days later Maya relapsed again.
Maya’s desire to always live her life led us to Vermont, in early November, where she celebrated her Make-A-Wish. She rode horses in the cold, roasted marshmallows by a fire and drank hot chocolate with family and friends. Maya was so very proud and told everyone she saw, “I rode horses all by myself!!” 11 days after her trip, on November 19, 2003, our Maya died.
No matter how great the struggle or how intense the pain, Maya lived to love and loved to live. She taught me, in so many ways, that there is always joy to be had and love to be shared. Maya lit up our lives, like the sun lights the sky…