Stories of children and their loved ones

Julie Plante

Maya's mom and CIBC employee

“Finding out that my daughter had cancer was the worst moment of my life. When Maya was in daycare, her teachers noticed that she seemed tired, and worried she may have depression. Then one morning, we found lumps under Maya’s arms. We immediately booked a doctor’s appointment.

My husband took Maya to get her blood drawn, and received a phone call the same afternoon telling him to bring Maya to Ste-Justine Hospital immediately. They said Maya may have leukemia.

Hearing the diagnosis, I panicked. I hugged Maya and called my mother, crying. The hospital confirmed that Maya had acute myeloid leukemia, and there were cancer cells in her brain. They told us that Maya’s chance of survival was 30%. She started treatments the next day, and I lived with her in the Charles-Bruneau Cancer Centre, away from my husband and son, for the next 6 months.

We worried about Maya missing out on her childhood, but when September rolled around, she and the other children on the floor started school. A teacher came to Maya’s room every day for kindergarten lessons. This gave me a much needed break, time to visit my son, and a chance to connect with the other parents. Social workers and psychologists were also there to help.

When Maya asked me once if there was a possibility she could die, I said ‘yes’. She was still very sick. She needed a bone marrow transplant and it was devastating to learn that my husband and I weren’t compatible donors. But Maya and the other children were so optimistic. They were so much stronger than us parents. Luckily, our son was a match. Justin’s always been very proud that he saved his big sister’s life.

There was always an emphasis placed on fun throughout Maya’s treatments which helped her stay positive. And it was the staff, volunteers and facilities at the Charles-Bruneau Cancer Centre which made that happiness possible. Maya and I still have memories of when she cycled through the hospital halls hooked up to fluids while I ran after her. We know how lucky she is, and now that she’s a teenager, Maya wants to continue spreading that optimism and show other kids there’s a future after cancer.”

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