Confident, creative and courageous – these are just a few words that perfectly describe our Footy Colours Day champion, Maya.
Maya is passionate about art, reading and acting. Her feisty spirit is so admirable and looking at this bright 10-year-old now, no one would ever guess just how much she has been through since she came down with a mild fever one night.
At the time, Maya’s parents simply did what any other parent would’ve done and gave her Panadol and Nurofen. Unfortunately, the fever persisted in the following weeks along with tummy pains, bruises and sleepless nights; Maya just started to deteriorate. The once active girl had been brought to the point where she asked if she could be pushed around in a pram.
She was only three when she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma.
“They hadn’t had a child who had developed the same condition as her with this tumour – it was all new to them so I think that also causes a delay because it’s never happened to anyone and they are just trying to figure out why it occurred,” said Maya’s mum, Sheila.
“Education wise we were really fortunate that there was a kinder teacher funded under your program and that Maya was getting continuous support from Sonya every day, five days a week through that whole period and it was just the best support she could have. “
Sheila was glad that her daughter didn’t have to miss out on the school experience of getting to play and learn with other kids.
“It just gave that socialisation as well because they are all stuck in their rooms and it just allowed them to see the other children and engage.
“Initially there was no educational support for Maya and it was only (for kids) above the age of five so she used to always see teachers coming in for other children. She always wondered why the teacher was with (the other kids) and not with her. Then when Sonya started with the kinder program – it was perfect.”
Sheila continued, “She (Sonya) was really the central link with communicating with her new teacher at the new school and her health needs. She was an important bridge between that transition phase between the hospital and the school.”
Fast forward to today and Maya has fortunately been in remission for five years. Her passion for art and reading has never faded and she has even found a new love in performing! Whether it’s public speaking or acting, Maya’s confident and feisty spirit has never been kicked down.
“She is one of the children who doesn’t look at an iPhone or iPad when she’s out; she reads a book. That love was all established there (in the program) so that was good. She just participated in a competition at her school book week that occurred last week and won the teacher’s prize. (She) got a stack of books so she was delighted.” Sheila shared cheerfully.