Maylee Aulani Tangaro
Wall of Hope: Stories of Courage & Inspiration
In January 2007, Maylee Tangaro was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer that develops in early childhood.
Here, she shares her experience at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, and what she wants other young patients to take away from her story.
“In January 2007, two months before my second birthday, I was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in my right eye. I had my eye removed and an implant was put in place along with a prosthesis.
“Then, in September of 2007, it came back, but this time it was in the bottom lid of my right eye. Within a week it was the size of a golf ball.
Within a week it was the size of a golf ball."
“I was young at the time, so I don't really remember too much, but from what my mom says, I was a strong and tough little girl.
“I never did grumble or complain about the situation I was in and I tried my hardest to be brave.
“I know I was the youngest to do radiation without sedation. I was able to lay still for the 20-30 minutes of radiation while my head was screwed down to the machine’s table.
“At first they said I was scared, but I made it through with help from my mom, my Uncle Guyson, my Uncle Ambrose and my daddy watching me from heaven.
“I was at Kapiolani for about four months doing chemo, blood transfusions, MRIs, blood work, checkups and hospital stays. At one point my older sister, Emeris, and I were put into a room together. Kapiolani was really amazing in trying to accommodate my mom so she didn't have to be in two places at once.
“We have made lifelong friends with the doctors and nurses of Kapiolani!! My family and I are so grateful for all the LOVE and SUPPORT we have been shown not only during our stays, but even after.
“They continue even now to support me in every way possible. If I'm struggling with physical or emotional problems due to my experience, Dr. Wade Kyono and staff always help me with the resources and help I have needed to make my life better.
“I have had my ups and downs, but they have never let me down!!!
I have shown them what it means to never take life for granted and to always stay positive."
“Today I'm doing great!! I do have some challenges in my life because I only have one eye. Some things I struggle with are depth perception (no 3D movies for me), playing sports and having people constantly staring at me because my eye looks different than the other due to the cancer and radiation.
“But to my friends and family, I'm considered their role model. They say I have shown them what it means to never take life for granted and to always stay positive.
“I'm a straight-A student in the ninth grade and my goal is to someday become a doctor to help people the way the doctors helped me!
(Cancer) has made me the person I am today, and I'm grateful to still be here!"
“Being diagnosed with cancer has had a great impact on my life, some good and some bad. But it has made me the person I am today, and I'm grateful to still be here!
“Be strong and never give up hope. Whatever it is that you will face in your life, try your hardest to find the positive in everything. And most important, love yourself!”
Published on: October 21, 2019