This is sweet Maya.
And this is just a snippet of her story, as told by her family.
But be forewarned… it rivals your worst nightmare.
“June 21, 2012, just 3 weeks after she turned one, we took Maya back to the hospital for an ultrasound. There was a lot of activity in the room, the tech got up and got a radiologist, and they whispered back and forth scanning things 5, 10, 20 times over again and measuring…I wasn’t paying much mind, my husband and I were busy consoling Maya who was not happy about having to lay there letting them do the test. From there they sent us to x-ray, and then told us they wanted to do a CT, they did the CT, and then a team of doctors came into the room and said 4 words that shattered my being “Your daughter has Neuroblastoma” but, what was that we thought? Some type of GI problem? Some easy fix? We had never heard of it…they continued on “Your daughter has cancer…a very large serious tumor…we need to admit you, now…” I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t stand, couldn’t process, and couldn’t stop the river of tears that were uncontrollably flowing as I squeezed my “healthy” little girl close to my chest. They had to be wrong–they HAD to be…she had just been to the doctor, she was healthy.
We were brought down to the ER where we met with surgeons. I told myself the whole way down there that it would be ok, trying to calm myself down so that I could do the best job possible figuring it all out. I told myself, they would just take this big tumor out, that it would be ok. People get tumors taken out all of the time. This was just something that we would get through. The surgeons came in one after one, then joined by the head of the department they explained that Maya’s tumor couldn’t be removed, that it was too intricate, too involved with things that were vital to her life. That it was wrapped around her aorta, and that it was too risky to attempt to remove it. It was inoperable.
We were admitted, did biopsies, tests, procedures, in a whirlwind…
Maya Serra, daughter of Joel and Renee (Pietrangeli) Serra, was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma at the age of 13 months. Neuroblastoma is a rare childhood cancer of the nervous system, with only about 600 cases diagnosed in the United States each year. Maya underwent a 12 hour long life threatening surgery on September 4, to remove her primary tumor which was located in her abdomen, about 8 centimeters and completely encircled her aortic artery and involved her liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, and other major organs, vascular structures, and nerves. Prior to meeting with the number one surgeon in the country it was considered inoperable.The surgery was complicated by a blood clot in her femoral artery which she now requires twice daily blood thinner injections. She spent several days on a ventilator in the PICU following surgery. Maya also has cancer in her hips, the base of her skull, and her spine.”
I read the updates her amazing mama writes on her Facebook page, Miracle 4 Maya, and I just can not wrap my head or heart around what Maya and her family have been through and are steal dealing with every day.
It is more than I can comprehend.
But this family so completely inspires me…they show others continuous courage and strength and hope in the face of heartbreak and fear.
They are superstars any way you slice it.
I finally got to meet them, this amazing family!
Maya’s mom and dad are so fantastic, and Maya is absolutely gorgeous.
She was a bit tired when we got there, and was nestled up in her father’s arms just taking it all in.
She looked so sweet in her vintage tea party dress and matching headband (made by her talented mama, btw) and the party tent decorations were just beautiful!
Renee (Maya’s mom) set up the cake table you see here…
I’m so glad I got to be just a small part of Maya’s birthday in 2013.
Maya’s story is a reminder to me of how precious our little ones are and how they carry our hearts around with them everywhere they go, every minute of the day.
It can so easily be smashed into the tiniest of pieces… but it can also grow bigger than you ever could have imagined.
Video tutorial on how to make and hand-paint an edible teacup and saucer, up top.