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Tag Archives: maya stern

Identity: Existing to Inspire

MayaStern2by Maya Stern, Living with Cancer, CKN Advisory Board Member


I was three when I learned how to absorb pain like a bike’s shocks absorb jumps. I was sitting in the phlebotomy lab, clutching my fluffy pink teddy bear. I cringed as the tourniquet pinched my skin. I have always found that part to be more painful than the actual penetration of my skin.




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Balancing Your Life to the Fullest

MayaStern2by Maya Stern, Living with Cancer, CKN Advisory Board Member


One of the biggest internal struggles that I face on a daily basis is: how do I live my life to its fullest, and maintain my health and energy so that I don’t make myself sick?


Because of the trauma my body has incurred and the medications that suppress my immune system, my energy can be consumed much more quickly from simple tasks. And because there have been many times when the ability to pursue my dreams was taken away from me, I feel like I have to take advantage of every wakeful moment so I can experience as much as I can. Often these things come in direct opposition to each other.


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Tips for Hope and (Emotional) Survival

MayaStern2by Maya Stern, Living with Cancer, CKN Advisory Board Member


This month, I am celebrating the fifth anniversary of receiving a heart transplant, and the beginning of a new life. In light of this milestone, I have been reflecting on how I have mentally and emotionally made it through the long-term effects of childhood cancer to this point, in spite of the times when I felt that nothing would ever go right. I have been granted so much luck by the universe and by the privilege into which I was born, however there were many moments when I was unsure if I could handle any more. These were the moments when I had no hope for change.


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Moving On

MayaStern2by Maya Stern, CKN Advisory Board Member


The most frustrating part of being sick for me was hearing people say, “You can’t do this”—even if it was physically warranted.


After chemotherapy shrunk my tumour, surgeons cut open my body to remove the remnants of the tumour. It was still too large, and they had to remove the whole kidney. No big deal—I have another one.

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Battle Scars

MayaStern2by Maya Stern, CKN Advisory Board Member

My scars form a lopsided winking face on the upper half of my body. Since I do not constantly wear turtlenecks, there is usually some visible sign of the trauma my body has incurred. 

When I was a 4 year old in preschool, I was the bald cancer kid, but my peers never treated me differently. By five, my hair had grown back and my scars were starting to heal and fade. I started kindergarten, and the only reminder that I had had cancer was the occasional follow up appointment. I wasn’t hiding from my past, but my past was hidden. When I had play-dates with friends, my parents would need to communicate that I may tire more easily and need a nap, or we would go swimming and my friends would see my scars when I was in a bikini. No one pried or gawked; or maybe I was too young to notice.

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The Long-Term Effects of Childhood Cancer

MayaSternby Maya Stern, CKN Advisory Board Member


Every year, approximately 1500 children are diagnosed with cancer. Because of advances in treatment options, 78% of children with cancer survive more than 5 years, and 70% are considered long-term survivors (Childhood Cancer Canada, 2011).


I am a part of that long-term survivor population.

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