GUEST COLUMN: Staying strong, like my daughter |

GUEST COLUMN: Staying strong, like my daughter

Provided to the TribuneMaya Liongirl Kailana Companis, 8, holds her newborn sister, Leilani, in this April 2005 photo, before she was diagnosed with leukemia.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Why is this important to me? Meet my daughter, Maya Liongirl Kailana Companis. She is smart, beautiful, funny and loving.

On April 14, 2006, Maya’s life changes forever. After eight hours in the emergency room we are told, “your child has leukemia.”

At age 9, she is diagnosed with cancer. She is rushed to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County and they rush to save her life. Having a white blood count of 240,000 (normally white blood count should be 10,000), an enlarged heart, an enlarged spleen, double pneumonia, anemia, dehydration and cancer, aggressive chemotherapy is the first step for my daughter.

Maya is the strongest person I will ever know. While enduring 16 painful months of intense, aggressive cancer treatments, she is robbed of her youth and forced to be a warrior.

After continued relapses and a failed bone marrow transplant, the doctors want to end treatment.

Maya says, “No! Do not give up on me; I want to fight!”

She tells me, “Mommy, I want to cry or scream everyday, but my tears don’t come. I am strong and I need to be strong. That’s why I try to stay happy.”

She never backed down from the bully cancer.

On June 18, 2007, Maya’s body starts to shut down. She is unable to walk, eat or function. There is no cure for her refractory acute myeloid leukemia with FL+3 mutation.

It’s time to bring her home. On June 22, 2007, we tell Maya she’s done with treatments, she is coming home. She meets Gwen Stefani of No Doubt that night.

“Mommy, I want to go to more concerts,” she tells me.

July 1, 2007: “Maya, stop trying to get up and let me take care of you!” I say. She agrees reluctantly.

July 2, 2007: “There is nothing more the doctors can do, baby; you are going to Heaven,” I say. “I’m going to die?” she asks.

July 3, 2007: Maya wakes up to a room filled with angels. She yells, “Get out now!”

5:30 a.m., July 4, 2007: Maya Liongirl passes away in my arms with a smile on her face.

Devastated and changed forever, I am reborn as a childhood cancer advocate, mother of an angel.

I’m not strong like Maya, but I continue to raise awareness and money for this cause.

Every year, 12,500 children are diagnosed with cancer.

Every day seven children lose their battle with cancer.

Please help me keep Maya’s legacy alive. You can donate any amount to the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation (pcrf-kids


Be aware of our toxic environment, our kids are paying the price.

Hold bake sales, toy drives, write letters to tell sick children you care about their battle.

Do something, your efforts do matter.

South Lake Tahoe, the kids can’t fight their battles alone.

My Angel Maya Liongirl thanks you.

– Skye Companis is a South Lake Tahoe resident.

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