The Stories of Fighters: Maura’s story of Leukemia, maturity, and a positive mindset
For this September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month we recognize that cancer is a battle, but it’s a fight that no child should have to fight alone. Follow along this month as we feature the Stories of Fighters.
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“Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” — Desmond Tutu
Maura with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with hair loss from chemo, smiling on her hospital bed and wearing her superhero cape.
Maura, her mother Mary, and her supportive family taking a family photo.
“One time early on in her treatment I was talking to the doctor and she turned to me and said ‘Mom please tell me everything that is going to be happening to me, I want to know and I want you to tell me before it happens.’ I will never forget this as from that day forward we pretty much talk to Maura as if she is an adult” (Mary Gilson, Maura’s Mother).
These were the words of Mary Gilson and her sweet daughter Maura Gilson. Maura is an 8 year-old girl who has been fighting Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a cancer found in the bone marrow, for a year now. She is “a very outgoing, intelligent, kind and assertive child,” who loves to play soccer and has “continued to show strength in times of extreme illness” (Mary Gilson). Because of her cancer diagnosis she has had to mature tremendously and bear the emotional toll of such a serious situation.
As Mary explained it, “She does not quite understand all the medical lingo but we do our best to explain exactly what type of treatments she is to receive, what could happen as a side effect and what we need to do to prevent side effects.” To Maura’s request, she is looped in on procedures, appointments, and diagnoses at just 8 years-old.
Despite her diagnosis, the Gilson family truly has a glass half-full mentality. They refuse to let cancer take life away from them. When we asked Mary about any misconceptions about cancer that she would like to change, this is what she said.
“Childhood cancer should not hold anyone back from still enjoying life with their child. I understand as a parent you do not want to expose them to certain activities to prevent other illnesses, however, challenging your children to remain active and encouraging them every day to accomplish tasks I personally feel helped Maura stay healthy throughout the majority of her treatments. We still went on local family trips, did outdoor activities, had play dates with her friends and family and tried to remain as much as normal as possible for Maura. We focused on keeping her mind healthy in hopes her body would follow in response.”
This positive attitude has been vital to help Maura progress and move forward. Which is why support from those around Maura and in the community mean more than you know. “Just be there for your friends and family when they need you, and do not take anything personal if people facing childhood cancer may not be as receptive or responsive as you would like them to be. It is the small things that matter most – like sending a card once in a while to the child or a text/video. Be consistent while families are going through this” (Maura Gilson).
Even if you are not close to a family dealing with childhood cancer, there are ways you can support them. For example, Mary wants to know, “How can parents be more proactive in their lifestyles to prevent cancer from ever occurring? A child should not have to experience this illness, so how can we prevent these certain types from even occurring?”
These are the types of questions that we can only answer with your help. This is our focus, and your support is helping us answer them through researching possible causes and advanced treatments. Every donation means another step towards finding answers. No child fights alone.
Help children like Maura answer life saving questions.