Welcome to Maya’s site. Please sign in to show your support.

Journal

May
22
2019

A Note from Maya: Life, death & the dentist

A few days after I got my diagnosis in November, I went to the dentist. A few days following that news meant that the world was raw and triggering. Every minute felt terrifying. So when my hygienist asked, “Have you had any recent changes to your health?” the poor woman really had no idea what she was unleashing.

I spent the hour fighting through tears and silence and awkwardness. When I checked out, the receptionist asked if I would like to schedule my next appointment, six months from now. I froze. I didn't know much about my diagnosis,  but I knew enough from the glimpses of terror in my mom’s voice to know that things did not look good. That there might not be a six months from now.

Today, I got a reminder that my dentist appointment is on 05/28, six days from now. 05/28 also happens to be the birthday of one of my very best childhood friends who passed away in a tragic hiking accident. I made 05/28 the password on my phone as a daily reminder to myself to live my days as fully as she did. I couldn’t help but marvel at that coincidence and reflect on how much has permanently changed. So much can happen in an instant, yet the world keeps turning and everything’s the same. It still rains on days you want it to be sunny and is sunny on days you want it to rain. There is still life, death, taxes, and the dentist.

I haven’t written much about this whole experience, but lately I started to write a letter to myself, to the Maya who stood in line at reception wondering if she should make her next appointment, from the Maya now.

In it, I talk a lot about odds. The odds of getting into Stanford. The odds of getting a job at Google. The odds of getting stage 4 ovarian cancer as a perfectly healthy 28-year-old. With 0/20,000 cancer genes. With parents, an uncle, and a sister, as doctors.  

What I conclude from these head-scratching odds is this: life is going to be short for everyone, no matter how long it is. And while we walk the planet, the only thing any of us has is our ability to extract meaning from experience.

What I have taken away from this experience is:

1. That life is a sport, best played as a team. And my team fucking rules. My parents are the most phenomenal souls I know. My sister is my hero. My friends and family are who you want by your side in a boxing match, in an ER, or in bed on a lazy Friday after chemo. Soulmates come in all shapes and forms if we let them. They can even come as dogs.

2. That you should write down 3 things you are grateful for each day. Especially on the days you feel like you have nothing to be grateful for. The last entry I wrote in the gratitude journal that sits by my desk reads, “getting to start chemo tomorrow.” Tonight, I will write “getting to finish chemo tomorrow.”

3. That you should be kind to strangers and generous to the world. You can learn a lot from your neighbors. Even if they are 82, they can become your friends.  

4. That in the face of the unknown, the only way through is one breath and one day at a time. One song at a time can work, too (thank you Rachel Platten, thank you Lupe, thank you GRiZ.)

5. That with all my unexplainable odds, I am no more, or less, special than anyone else.

Throughout this journey, I have held mantras sacred. My dad shared one a while ago that I use often — relax, trust, go downstream. He also taught me a very important one, “I am not attached to the outcome. No matter what happens, I will handle it.

I do not know the outcome of tomorrow. Or the next six months. I pray it is the end of treatment for me. But it may not be. What I do know is that I will go to the dentist next week. And I have never been more excited for a dentist appointment. That horribly mundane, dreaded experience has now become a chance to celebrate that I’m here and a chance to remember everyone I love.  

I end my letter to Maya-At-The Dentist saying this:

Your experience has been an extraordinary one. Let it undo you. Let it break you and make you whole again. Walk away from it bigger, brighter and filled with what you need to live like your soul is on fire.   

That is how you live a vibrant life in the face of death, darling. You stare it down and blind it with compassion and laughter and love and human connection. You defeat it with the conviction to make it better.

I would not be here, able to have any conviction, without you -- my team in the arena, on the bench, and in the stands far away. For the unwavering messages of love and support, for “being there” in every sense of the term -- thank you. Thank you thank you thank you. I cannot say it enough.

I hope someday I can find a way to repay the amount of generosity I’ve received back into the world but, in the meantime, I hope you can find a way to look forward to your next trip to the dentist.

With love and appreciation,
Maya

Help Maya Stay Connected to Family and Friends

A $30 donation to CaringBridge powers a site like Maya's for one month. Will you make a gift to ensure that this site stays online for them and for you?

Comments

  • Ruth Wolever : Thank you for this soulful letter and reminder to live fully. I am a friend of your parents, and can see their love and wisdom in you. I know they also draw it from you. With deepest respect, Ruth Wolever
    11/9/19
  • Robyn Lewis : Maya darling, I've just returned from South Africa after an absence of 10 years. Your Dad helped me make arrangements with wonderful Sena to spend the afternoon with Margie. I took our old school photos (we were best friends from childhood) to try to jog her memory. Although I was shocked by her frail appearance, she was surprisingly responsive and we spent a wonderful afternoon together. She even remembered teacher's names from High School! I've just read your incredible piece about "going to the dentist". I would like to share this with my family. You are an amazing human being -how much you contribute to our lives as you live through your own life-threatening experience! My prayers are with you. You area very special young woman indeed.
    9/24/19
  • allegra diggins : Hi Maya! Wow, what beautifully written and wise words. I was always so impressed with your talent, strength and kindness. I think about you often, sending love and good thoughts your way. Always, Allegra (aka Your APMM Mom :-)
    7/6/19
  • Jeunesse Park : From my son Tamarac to whom o sent your letter Dear Maya, Oh my, your letter has touched my soul and heart, and have shed many tears while reading through, as I feel the power and emotion in your message. I am so sorry for your tragic news and at the same time so happy to hear your positive beautiful words. l am on your team too :) and send all my love and healing energy your way. Thank you for sharing your amazing story. You make me appreciate life even more, as I do try to live life to the fullest, especially since my accident earlier this year, my head injury was quite a shock, dealing with the symptoms. Though your words have given me such a emotional powerful feeling and will choose to make the utmost of this precious amazing life we have been given. Thank you Wishing you many more trips to the dentist and all that you wish for. All my LOVE & RESPECT. Tamarac Park
    6/24/19
  • Laura Franklin : LOVE LOVE LOVE YOU xxx
    6/15/19
  • Patti Schneider : Hi Maya! The Schneider family is thinking of you and sending our love and healing, healthy thoughts your way! We are so sorry what you are going through but hopefully you feel all the love and support of everyone around you to carry you through this. I will never look at those routine dental visits the same way!
    6/12/19
  • Kathy Winter : Hi Maya! Just wanted to say hello and send some love your way. I hope you have a beautiful day!
    6/11/19
  • Andi Mapes : Sweet Maya, Thank you for showing us unshakable grace. You are surrounded by love. Because of you, each of us are #mayastrong. Dearest love, Andi Mapes
    6/11/19
  • Richie Stearns : Maya, I love reading your thoughts and observations. I am on and routing for your team! Onward, to the dentist and beyond... Richard
    5/31/19
  • Tracey Port : Dear Maya You are a teacher to all of us ❤️ Our prayers thoughts and love to you each and every day
    5/29/19
  • Corinne Bilodeau : Happy dentist day, Maya! Happy birthday, Carl. I think of both you you daily. Sending so much love your way. And I think you should write a book, you write very well and have inspiring stories to tell!
    5/28/19
  • Mary Beth Lieberman : Dearest Maya, thank you for your beautiful and inspiring letter. We’ll be thinking of you and celebrating the joy of the mundane as you visit the dentist tomorrow. Sending our love and prayers to you and your family. We love you. Mary Beth and Rick, Michael and Jonathan
    5/28/19
  • Cheryl Gresham : Maya, what a great letter to receive from yourself...I'd love to know more about your 82 year old neighbor too! I miss seeing your smiling face, Trunk Clubs and Justin T cut out....I'm thinking of you regularly although this is my first post. I wish you well at your dentist appt tomorrow and hope that the odds turn your way in this battle....love your puppy too! Keep posting ...do they have their own IG yet? Wishing you well, sweet Maya and so glad you have your family and the best team ever. CG
    5/28/19
  • madelyn levy : Maya, You and your mom and dad are in my thoughts. I send love and light to you all. Madelyn Levy
    5/28/19
  • Karen Steele : Maya, I have been struggling to find the words after reading your post. It blew me away. We are with you, staying in the present and willing you to good health each step of the way. Thank you for sharing your beautiful and uplifting sentiments with us. Sending love and strength.. and a sprinkling of magic dust..xoxo
    5/27/19
  • Evelyn Jones : Dearest Maya, Sending love, light, joy , laughter, good health and peace of mind vibes your way. Evelyn and Jeffrey Daniel
    5/26/19
  • Peter and Pam Kaufman : Hello Maya You are in our thoughts 24 hours a day! You are so strong! Remember this! Love Peter , Pam and Liane
    5/24/19
  • Sara Priest : Maya, Gosh, you have been lighting up the world for a very long time. From your journey's to help the children in South Africa to today. You are an inspiration and a warrior. Your courage is contagious. Thank you for sharing your story. We are "going downstream" with you, praying for all involved. XO
    5/24/19
  • charlette gordon : Dearest Maya your journal entry brought me smiles, tears and goose -bumps. Today is the first time I have heard Rachel Platen's and GRIZ 's songs and I love them! A line in Rachel's Fight Song spoke to me, " All the things I did not say, are wrecking balls in my brain." Personally I just now decided to let the weighty beasts go. And ahh the freedom! One of my mantras is, "I did the best I could in that moment." Thank you both for this seemingly insignificant yet powerful insight. Know, sweet Maya, that we DO stand by you and you are never alone. You may be one match but your match blinds and attracts us with the fire of a million suns! Seems that GRIZ's song, When I Find My Way, is a reminder that we do have the strength to carry what seem to be unbearable burdens and we are OK. You have already proven that every day is a chance to be great and that behind each grey sky the sun is always shinning. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for having the courage to share your soul with us. The end of your letter to Maya-At-The Dentist is absolutely precious. I now look forward to my trips to the dentist as a celebration of life and of you! Deepest regards and gratitude always, A 70 year-old friend ;-) Charlette
    5/23/19
  • Sara Whitlock : Maya, From one stage IV gal to another, you and your family are in my prayers always.
    5/23/19
  • Dawn Schwartzman : Maya, your words are a gift to us all.... I continue to reread them and discover expanded perspective and gratitude each time. Sending continued love and healing intentions to you and your family 💜☯️☮️ Dawn
    5/23/19
  • Inna Terekhov : Dear Maya, you are my hero. I am so proud of you and grateful to know about you and your journey.You are amazing human been, and you will win this fight!
    5/23/19
  • Kelsey Murphy : Love you and thank you for your beautiful words Maya!! I’ve read this post over and over, and just wrote down my 3 things. Praying for you everyday.
    5/23/19
  • Sue Hansen : Maya, I think of you often and hoping your treatment will soon end so that you can return to good health and normalcy. Your courage, strength, and conviction during this difficult time is an inspiration to all who’s lives you have touched.
    5/23/19
  • Wendy Kuremsky : Maya-I would like to be first in line to pre-order your first book on Amazon!!!! You have such a gift for words and I find everything you write so poignant and inspirational. What a gift you are giving to everyone blessed to read your thoughts. Praising God for you being able to triumph through this journey thus far. There were dark and difficult days for sure but you are finishing strong!!!
    5/23/19
  • Francine Schwartzberg : Maya, through your words, you have given so much comfort to your team, near and far. Your strength and spirit inspire greatness in all of us.
    5/23/19
  • Kathy Winter : Maya, I've read your beautiful note several times and I'm just amazed at your insight, attitude and wisdom. I'm so grateful to you for sharing what's on your heart with all of us out here in the stands cheering for you. You're such a bright light in this world, Maya, and your words are powerful!!! As always, I'm sending lots of love to you and your team.
    5/23/19
  • molly cobb : Sending you love and gratitude! Thank you for your amazing words of wisdom! ❤️ We are here with you on this journey!❤️❤️❤️❤️
    5/23/19
  • Heather Theders : Maya you are simply amazing. Your words are so inspiring. I can only imagine how hard this whole experience has been on you, yet you arise from it with such insight and wit. My prayers will continue for your health and well being. X
    5/23/19
  • SARA SNYDER : sending you (current/future/past) all the things. your words are amazing - thank you for sharing.
    5/22/19
  • Lauren Baum : Maya! I have no words for your words. You are truly the most magical, phenomenal person I know and your strength and brilliance is what tops the list of my newfound gratitude journal (newly found, thanks to you!) Cheering you on at your dentist appointment, and every other step of the way. This world is so lucky to have you in it. Love you Maya!!
    5/22/19
  • Alice Itzigsohn : Maya, this is the most beautiful and inspiring post, you truly are an amazing human being. I wish you strength and enjoy your dentist appointment. You are in my prayers daily, wishing you everything that you deserve and more. Sending BIG love.
    5/22/19
  • Jana Perkins : Been praying for u and ur family, Maya (I’m one of your mom’s patients). This is the most amazing, inspiring, well-written post I have read anywhere on Social Media in a very long time. Get it, girl. You’ve got this. ❤️👍💪
    5/22/19
  • Linda Finkelstein : Oh my g-d...how does she keep going?Im sitting in my chair at work.I had to turn around because I keep crying .YOU are my hero Maya.Miracles do happen ....with all my heart I’m praying for you🙏
    5/22/19
  • Jamie Reichstein : The writing of this post is almost as beautiful as the writer herself. Thinking about you, often. xoxo
    5/22/19
  • Laura Katz : Love you Maya!!!
    5/22/19
  • Denise Bayvel : I would like to stand on the top of “Pwide Wock” as you used to call it my precious niece, and declare that Maya Amoils has penned the most wonderful and inspirational definition of exactly what is ; “the circle of life“ and I am truly blessed to be called her aunt!! There is a beautiful hymn that says “Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say ..it is well with my soul “ May your lot be one filled with many more visits to the dentist and joy everlasting 💓💓💓 akuna matata angel x I hope you feel the love tonight and always.
    5/22/19
  • Linda Bailey : Maya,thank you so much for sharing your beautiful words. You are an amazing young woman and very special individual!!! I am continuing to pray to the God that created you and I believe in my heart the He will continue to give you the strength you need to survive!!! I'm praying for your dear parents and the rest of your family and team caring for you. Maya.....you light up the 🌎!!! Sending you warm hugs and love and asking God to surround you with His healing power
    5/22/19
  • Linda Bailey : Praying for you,Maya. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words!!! I'm continuing to ask God that created you to continue giving you strength as you go through these treatments! Praying also for your dear parents,the rest of your amazing family and care team!! There is power and healing in prayer!!! May you continue to shine bright and be all you can be.....sending love and hugs. God bless you and all those you love! Keep on keeping on!!
    5/22/19
  • Fran Bailey : Maya, Words of wisdom said with such grace! You are living in grace I commend your spirit and courage, thank you for sharing your inner thoughts. I just finished a book called Emergence, my favorite line is Love is at the altar of truth. Sending deep love at this moment and beyond... Fran and Dan
    5/22/19
  • Honi Cohen : Dear Maya...thank you thank you thank you for reminding us what is important and what is truth...you have been and are an inspiration ❣️ Hooray and goodbye to chemo hopefully forever and may your gorgeous smile be even brighter on the 28th🤗🌞😘
    5/22/19
  • Carla Gossman : Thank you for sharing your courageous story. You are one of the bravest women I know. You fill me to the top with your positivity. I love your spunk and determination. You make me happy to go to the dentist. Keep fighting Maya!!! Lots of love and prayers your way❤️
    5/22/19
  • Al Lloyd : Steve, Thanks for sharing this wonderful letter from your daughter. You must be very proud and happy. Hoping for continue health and progress. And now I am looking forward to my next dentist's appointment Hope to see you at the pool soon Al
    5/22/19
  • Dennis Amoils : Maya you are an inspiration to all of those around you and we are all blessed to count you as a friend and family. You give strength to everyone and your words are a life lesson to all of us. we love you and know that you will be going to many many more dentist appointments --i just hope you don't have screwed up teeth like your Dad and uncles otherwise you could be going to more dentist appointments than planned. Looking forward to you getting over this last Chemo treatment and back into Maya mode. Sending Love Uncle Den, Auntie barb, Ryan ,Danielle and Hannah
    5/22/19
  • Dennis Amoils : Maya you are an inspiration to all of those around you and we are all blessed to count you as a friend and family. You give strength to everyone and your words are a life lesson to all of us. we love you and know that you will be going to many many more dentist appointments --i just hope you don't have screwed up teeth like your Dad and uncles otherwise you could be going to more dentist appointments than planned. Looking forward to you getting over this last Chemo treatment and back into Maya mode. Sending Love Uncle Den, Auntie barb, Ryan ,Danielle and Hannah
    5/22/19
  • Ariel Nathanson : Boundless gratitude for YOU sweet human Maya. Please write a book. Or start a new religion - Mayaism. Or even a cult! I’ll be your first devoted member. Here’s to years and years of 2:30 appointments. Get it? 2:30? Tooth Hurty 🤓
    5/22/19
  • Gwen Heilbrun : Maya, After reading your note, I am breathless. Words cannot express how in awe I am of you! And your family. You are a very special person! Enjoy your trip to the dentist!
    5/22/19
  • Steve gordon : such beautiful words and thoughts, in such trying times. Bless you and your family and your friends.
    5/22/19
  • Gavin B : Maya, You write beautifully... but then again, a beautifully kind and smart soul would write so well. Here is to you! Here is to your dentist appointment next week! Here is to laughter and joy and knowing how much you are loved! ❤️
    5/22/19
  • cindy hertzel : I can't wait to meet you someday!!
    5/22/19
  • Lauris Woolford : Thank you for your inspirational thoughts of gratitude! Enjoy the dentist! 🥰
    5/22/19
  • Donna S Trindle : Every six months I ‘front-load’ appointments before my scans. What if...? In CeLeBrAtiOn and in HoNoR of you I’m making some big plans for the month After. Much LOVE.
    5/22/19
  • Teresa Esterle : Maya--- The first entry in my gratitude journal today is to say THANK YOU for sharing your story and your journey. You are such a wise old soul. Your light burns SO bright. I am blessed to be in the same orbit as you and your amazing family. Hugs and love to all!
    5/22/19
  • Kathyjo@fuse.net Parsanko : Thank you for sharing your heart—fear, strength, faith, love and wisdom. A reminder to us all to live fully. “I hope someday I can find a way to repay the amount of generosity I’ve received back into the world...” Well, dear Maya, you’ve long surpassed that. Life magnified through your lens. Love you.
    5/22/19
  • Libby Cottrell : Hi Maya, What a beautifully written, poignant reminder of the truth: Life is going to be short for everyone no matter how long it is. Your journey, your courage, your transparency have changed me, someone in the crowd cheering and praying from afar. Thank you, Maya! Here’s to your next dentist appointment...and to mine! Libby Cottrell
    5/22/19
  • Margo Reschka : Incredibly wise words Maya. The world and every single breath we take is what we make of it. You are an amazing woman and you inspire me to be happier and kinder in my life. You remind me with your spirit to fight that we are only given this very moment and we dare not squander it. Keep looking forward to that next dentist Maya.
    5/22/19
  • Carol anne Pappalardo : My darling Maya. Such beautiful, intuitive, inspirational, wise and heartfelt words. You are a true warrior.I salute you and am so blessed to have you in my life.Here's to many,many more years of " a vibrant life filled with compassion, laughter, love and human connection". ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
    5/22/19
  • Toni Brownell : What a beautiful message. We continue to think of u and pray for u from Cincinnati!
    5/22/19
  • Kim Farrell : This was so inspiring and beautiful. Thank you for the reminder to be grateful for every moment, no matter the circumstances. Rooting for you and sending you positive, healthy energy.
    5/22/19
  • Pam Bernstein : So beautifully written Maya. Your words resonate your true love of life and are such and inspiration to all of us blessed to know you. Keep up the positive vibes and know we’re sending lots of love from south Florida! XOXO
    5/22/19
  • Nanci Lewis : So inspirational Maya and written so meaningfully! We are cheering you on and keep sending positive thoughts your way! XO
    5/22/19
  • Jeunesse Park : Thank you for sharing beautiful sweet and wise Maya. An vital message for all... this short and precious life...Thank you for being you darling girl xxx
    5/22/19
  • Grace Lee : So beautifully written, Maya! Thank you for sharing. Enjoy the dentist! :)
    5/22/19
  • Idit Isaacsohn : Thank you Maya, for your wisdom. We are cheering you on with vibes and love . Keep it up kiddo and make a new dentist appointment, please. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🎉🎉🎉
    5/22/19
  • Olivia Ma : thank you for sharing this, Maya - it's a gift to everyone in the crowd, cheering you on.
    5/22/19
  • elana glasenberg : You are an inspiration to all of us! Stay strong! Fight On! X0X0
    5/22/19
  • Lisa Tolkin : So beautifully expressed, you have seen the edge and have received the gift . You are an inspiration xxxx Lisa
    5/22/19
  • Barbara Schwartz : Dear dear Maya..simply said it is a privledge to be a part of your world..your words and kindness resonate with anyone who is lucky to somehow have a connection to you💞 My only wish for you is complete recovery🥰
    5/22/19
  • David Shein : Hi Maya You can repay us by coming to visit us in Australia one day and hopefully soon. What a meaningful and inspirational post. Love from your family Down Under David and Colleen Shein
    5/22/19