When typically energetic Maya began complaining of fatigue, headaches, and nausea, her mom, Melissa, knew something wasn’t right. After two months of seeking answers, a neurologist finally diagnosed Maya with migraines. However just two weeks later, Maya began experiencing blurred vision and eye pressure as well. At an optometry appointment, the doctor found fluid behind her eyes and immediately sent Maya to the emergency department at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR).
Testing revealed and confirmed a diagnosis of medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumor. Thinking back, Melissa describes hearing the word cancer as “an out of body experience,” especially since Maya had always been such a strong and healthy child. Surgery to remove the tumor happened just days later, which gave Maya’s dad, Ronald, enough time to fly home from his Army deployment in Kuwait.
Although Maya spent 21 days in the hospital, her resiliency and determination, coupled with her training as a lifelong dancer, allowed her balance and physical strength to return faster than doctors expected. In a true testament of her determination, Maya’s first day of radiation was the same day as her brother Trey’s high school graduation, but she didn’t let it keep her from attending. Radiation lasted six weeks, followed by chemotherapy treatment, which she will finish this August.
On CHoR’s unique atmosphere, Maya says, “People don’t realize how important it is to have an environment where there are things for kids to look forward to.” A full-time Child Life Specialist on staff, a closet full of games and a freezer full of ice pops are just some of the things that make coming to the Hematology and Oncology Clinic at CHoR such a positive experience for patients. She is incredibly grateful for the support of the community around her and hopes to see it continue this summer through the area’s participation in Anthem LemonAid.
Sponsored by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Anthem LemonAid is Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ signature summer event and has been helping kids with cancer since 2001. Participants will distribute cups of lemonade in exchange for donations and 100% of all funds raised will benefit the Hematology and Oncology Clinic at CHoR, where children with cancer receive the lifesaving care they need.
It’s free to participate in the event and supplies are provided. Every registered participant will receive lemonade mix, cups, a pitcher, a banner, stickers, and sunglasses. Stands can be set up at one of the available retail sites or a place of participants’ choosing, such as a local business, front yard, or neighborhood pool.
Maya set up her first Anthem LemonAid stand last year and was one of the event’s top fundraisers, having raised over $3,000. She plans to set up another lemonade stand this summer and challenges families, businesses and community organizations to set up their own stand the weekend of July 20-22.
To register for Anthem LemonAid or to learn more about the event, please visit AnthemLemonAid.com or call (804) 228-5934.
Content for this article was provided by Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.