Our names are Jeremy and Sierra and our two-year-old daughter Maiya has acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Our family’s future was rocked earlier this year when we received the life-altering news of Maiya’s cancer.
In the ten months since her frightening diagnosis, we have learned how much the generosity of donors like you has helped improve Maiya’s survival odds. And helped families like ours get through the hardest time in our lives.
We hope Maiya’s story motivates you to keep giving.
Maiya loves playing outside, so much so that many days she wears us out and we have to coax her into the house with a favourite snack. She is our little explorer, curious about all the treasures she finds on our neighbourhood walks.
Late last December Maiya slipped down two stairs in our Brandon home and fractured her ankle. While at the emergency, she had blood taken. The results were the first hint something wasn’t right.
Maiya’s mood and behaviour changed quickly over a short period of time. She stopped being a happy toddler. All she wanted to do was lie on the couch for hours on end. She’d always had a good appetite, but she didn’t want to eat anything. And she stopped walking.
Watching her regress without knowing why was terrifying.
How do you come to terms with being told your baby has cancer?
A late-night phone call urging us to take her back to the emergency, as soon as we could, provided clues to our lingering questions about her health.
How do you deal with hearing your child’s body is at risk of an infection and she urgently needs blood transfusions? That we need to pack our bags and head to Winnipeg because her condition is so serious and the hospital in our community isn’t set up to take care of such a complex case in a young child.
We tried not to think too far ahead, because the “what-if” thoughts were unbearable. We didn’t know how to cope with our emotions… we were just numb.
The early days of Maiya’s treatment were alarming.
She struggled to breathe, her liver and spleen enlarged from the leukemia, pushing on her diaphragm and lungs. While undergoing an initial bone marrow test, Maiya’s oxygen levels dropped close to zero. We were escorted out of the procedure room as we watched her numbers falling. We didn’t know what would happen next.
We were petrified.
The pandemic added further challenges.
Maiya was diagnosed just mere weeks ahead of COVID-19 hitting Manitoba. She is immunocompromised due to her cancer treatment. To keep her safe we have to be extra cautious.
We were very anxious about returning to our lives in Brandon in early May after spending almost three full months in Winnipeg for her lifesaving treatment. What if something went wrong? Can you imagine being overwhelmed with the fear you can’t keep your child safe, even in your own home? We’ve had to learn to live in the moment and focus on what is right in front of us.
May 2022 – the end of Maiya’s treatment – seems so far away.
The impact of her cancer is always present. The fatigue and mood swings. Is she this way because she’s a toddler or is it because of the treatments? We both struggle with not knowing the answers. And it’s heartbreaking to realize our two-and-a-half-year-old knows cancer terms. We never expected that. Childhood cancer is something you just don’t imagine until you experience it.
She is such a cuddle-bug and a momma’s girl.
She loves to grab her blanket and stuffed monkey and say to me “mommy read book.” It melts your heart. While we are cautiously optimistic about her condition, we know more needs to be done.
Clinical trials, which donors have helped fund, have led to incredible discoveries and have shaped Maiya’s treatment. For trials to continue to be available, we need your help. Your support of research as a monthly donor may be what enables CancerCare to open or participate in a much-needed trial.
Our biggest hope for Maiya’s future is that she’s happy.
We know this might sound cliché to you because all parents want their children to be happy. But with her having cancer so young, we have a newfound perspective on what that means.
There truly aren’t enough words to adequately thank you for what your giving will do for our family. Your support means the world to us, especially during the holidays. Our heartfelt gratitude for your kindness and generosity.