A Legacy of Kindness and Compassion
How 11-Year-Old Karma Maestas United a Community
Written by Crystal McBride, Karma’s Mom
Karma was born a sassy, fierce and bright child. Independent and inquisitive, she was determined to get the ultimate “why” of everything. She grew to love math, science and exploring the stars and universe. She was wise beyond her years and would challenge not only her friends and family, but herself to be a better person.
When she was ten years old, Karma was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer, Osteosarcoma of the left distal femur. As her mom, it wasn’t easy to learn the type of cancer she had and what she was up against. Karma got angry at first, wanting to know why I couldn’t just kiss it away.
A turning point for our family was Thanksgiving Day, a few weeks after her diagnosis, when she asked, “Mom, am I going to die?” My first thought was to scream NO, but I knew that I needed to be completely honest so she could trust that I wouldn’t hold anything back from her. Even though we might hear things that we didn’t want to hear, together, we would hold each other up.
Finding out about Karma’s cancer was a fast track to an unpredictable world with no rules or traffic signs. When she was diagnosed, I was nine-months pregnant and due at the end of the month. On October 14, 2016 Karma was diagnosed. Just three days later, on October 17, Karma had surgery for a biopsy and port placement. That very same day I gave birth to my youngest daughter, Hope. Having a brand new baby and another baby with cancer was overwhelming.
Karma endured 30 rounds of chemotherapy and we hoped that her cancer was gone. That was not to be. A few months later, a stomach tumor appeared and we were told the devastating news that she had only weeks to live. Karma’s life-affirming response was to plan a celebration of life ceremony and to create a bucket list of the things she hoped to experience—to have a prom and a ride in a Lamborghini.
Our local community in Utah rose up, embracing us with love and support. Words cannot express how grateful we were (and still are) for them. They held Cruise for Karma fundraisers to raise money for children fighting cancer. They made her bucket list dreams come true—having her very own prom with a DJ and dancing, and a joyful celebration of life event that Karma planned with fast cars and a bounce house. Looking back, I appreciate just how important the support of others is. When your child has cancer, it affects the whole family. We suffer along with the child we love as we watch the disease and the treatments take a devastating toll.
Even though I lost Karma to cancer, I would say that the cancer journey has given me a new life, new outlook and a new purpose. I knew that we could either let this define us or we could define it. This was a battle we weren’t going to lose. For the first time in my life, I saw what life was supposed to be—the kindness, caring and compassion that Karma showed us. She cried for the other children on the cancer floor and expressed that she would die over and over again if she could take the cancer from them so they didn’t have to go through it. She often said, “I know the pain that they are in and it’s not fair.”
CureSearch’s mission is critical, not only for raising awareness and funding research for children’s cancer, but also to provide resources that offer one of the few lifelines for parents when their child has cancer. When you are able to connect with other families, who have gone through this, you know that you and your child are not alone. These resources light your way during your darkest time and give you strength.
This young child was able to unite a whole community to raise money for children with cancer and those who are homeless. Her life and legacy have lifted us all up. She asked us to be more kind and loving, and have a charitable heart. We have become better people as we honor her wishes and her memory.
Learn more about CureSearch educational and support resources at curesearch.org/Cancer-Resources
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