Our names are Alicia & Rob and our four-year-old daughter Maia has cancer. We would like to share with you our personal story. There is a saying, “you aren’t a cancer parent until you are.” You never think it’s going to happen to you and then suddenly it does.
Can you imagine what it’s like learning your child has cancer?
Earlier this year the unimaginable became our family’s reality. Receiving the news our daughter Maia had high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia shook our world.
In the six months since her life-threatening diagnosis, we have come to appreciate leading-edge research and clinical trials are helping our precious daughter get better. We know these would not be possible without donors’ support of CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.
Until last winter, Maia was just what you’d expect a little girl to be. She was precocious, smart and energetic. She loved to play with her pets and stuffed animals and spent hours and hours in the “land of make believe.”
She was a pretty awesome and happy little girl. Then everything started to change.
Maia had a nagging low-grade fever. There were times where she didn’t want to eat. And she was exhausted. As her symptoms worsened and persisted, we became increasingly concerned. It was early last April and we knew it was time to seek medical care for Maia.
The events of the next few days will be etched in our memories forever like a recurring nightmare. The anxiety we felt about the unknown was overwhelming. Within hours this anxiety was replaced with intense fear when the diagnosis was confirmed … Maia had cancer.
We were thrust into the terrifying reality of childhood cancer treatment.
The early weeks of her intense treatment were traumatic. Maia had a look of pain in her eyes no child should have. She became afraid of everything. She also lost a lot of weight from the treatment. Our hearts broke seeing our beautiful, happy four-year-old emotionally and physically melt away. We had to be brave though for her sake.
Being parents of a child with cancer is life altering.
We absolutely hate having to hold Maia down while a feeding tube gets put in her nose every two weeks. Yet we know it’s necessary because without it she wouldn’t get the nutrients her body desperately needs. We also hate pumping her full of chemotherapy drugs, but we know they are going to save her life.
We hope you will consider making the largest gift you can so today’s research can lead to tomorrow’s treatments and hopefully reduce the need for such incredibly difficult treatments for young children.
Before Maia’s diagnosis, one of her most defining features was her beautiful curly hair. Watching it all fall out was tremendously difficult. She looks so different from other kids and people can’t help but stare. These stares and questions about what’s wrong with her are a constant and painful reminder she’s very, very sick.
When she was diagnosed the leukemia was in her central nervous system. This means in addition to the cocktail of chemotherapy drugs she receives, she will also require several rounds of cranial radiation starting in March. Maia will be in treatment for nearly three years under the care of CancerCare Manitoba’s talented pediatric oncology team.
What is truly remarkable is seeing how much our young daughter internalizes what is being done to her body. When we’re at home playing with her favorite stuffed animals, our “make believe” today is being their doctor and giving needles and medicine just like she gets at CancerCare.
We have come to appreciate progress beating this terrible disease is not possible without your generosity.
Your support means so much to us. We hope you will join us in making a gift to the Foundation today. Every donation matters. Your gift will help build hope… for a cure, new treatments and more play time for our family.
Alicia & Rob