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Meet Maya

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 wouldn’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 the 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.

Although this shining star still dances when she’s up to it, creates beautiful crafts and knits, Maya is excited to have her full energy back once chemotherapy is over. She’s already looking forward to returning to school for her 8th grade year, getting back to her regular dance schedule and perhaps participating in gymnastics and tumbling.

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