In observance of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we share KIPPster Maya's courageous story to bring hope and awareness to childhood cancer. Please join us in wearing gold this Friday, September 30, and share this story to help raise further awareness and bring additional and much needed federal support!
By Yesenia Castro, School Leader, KIPP Raíces Academy
Today, I want to introduce a very special kindergarten Achiever; her name is Maya, and she is a cancer survivor.
On October 17, 2019, a routine doctor’s visit for unexplained leg bruising turned into a parent’s worst nightmare. Maya was diagnosed with pre-b acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the young age of 2 years old. Immediately Maya started chemotherapy. She also had to have surgery to implant a port in her chest for the therapies, blood transfusions, and fluids she would receive for the next 2.5 years.
Her family quickly learned oncology medical terminology and procedures, and they had to isolate from the world long before COVID existed to ensure Maya’s little immunosuppressed body could stay safe. Maya underwent countless hospitalizations, surgeries, and chemotherapies in the two and half years of treatment. As one can only imagine, this diagnosis took a toll on Maya and her entire family emotionally, financially, and physically. Maya continued strong, achieved remission, and finished her treatment in December 2021.
Now, at age 5, Maya follows up with her oncology team monthly to monitor her for signs of relapse or secondary effects from treatment and will do so until she is 18.
I share this story today because September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Childhood cancer is not rare, but it’s also not often discussed. It’s important to bring this conversation and awareness to the forefront, especially when it comes to receiving federal support. Through this process, Maya’s family learned that only 4% of federal funding goes to researching childhood cancers.
We ask that we come together as a community to help us raise awareness by wearing gold/yellow on Friday, September 30th. As Maya’s mother said, =“My only hope is to raise awareness and one day give all children a fighting chance because they’re worth more than gold."
If you would like to learn more about Childhood Cancer Awareness, please visit this website: https://www.stjude.org/get-involved/other-ways/childhood-cancer-awareness-month.html