HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - A Henrico family is remembering 14-year-old Maya Smith, whose strength during a battle with cancer inspired thousands.
“I want the world to remember Maya as a strong, resilient, happy, full of smiles, young lady,” said Melissa Smith, Maya’s mom. “She was so generous.”
At 11 years old, Maya began a battle with medulloblastoma, a form of brain cancer. Through chemo, radiation and surgeries, Maya refused to be defeated. Family and friends called her a Warrior Princess.
“She only lived 14 years, but she accomplished so much in her 14 years, she wouldn’t take no for an answer,” explained her father Ronald Smith. “Her condition limited the things she could do, but she didn’t want to limit how she lived."
Ronald says Maya showed him “what true faith looks like.”
After a brief remission, Maya’s cancer returned in November 2018. Maya spent five weeks at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, and she passed away Friday, Sept. 6.
“She was always that example, and she was that example for people who were not suffering,” said Ronald Smith.
Maya was a published author, through The Red Fred Project she wrote, “Flight of Friendship." The book has two main lessons, choose your friends wisely and stay true to you.
NBC12 first met Maya on her 12th birthday in 2017, her family was celebrating the end of Maya’s radiation. In 2018, Maya shared her excitement preparing for an Anthem LemonAid stand to raise money for the children battling illnesses.
Maya was not afraid of adventure, her parents says in May 2019, even with limited mobility she was determined to parasail while on a Disney Cruise through the Make a Wish Foundation.
"She always wanted to be on TV and she wanted to be on the radio, and she wanted people to know about her, " said Melissa Smith. “As she would say, due to this unfortunate situation, she got to have all of these things happen and meet these great people because of what she went through.”
Maya’s parents say they are grateful for the community that helped their family and Maya through her battle. They know her legacy will continue.
Family and friends will remember Maya’s life on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 1 p.m. at Little Elam Baptist Church in Charles City, Va.
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