Maria’s star for her family and miracle baby, Mia

Maria names a star to celebrate her recovery from cancer, her sister and beautiful daughter Mia.

Maria was diagnosed with Synovial sarcoma – a rare form of cancer that develops around joints – at the age of 27 in 2017. She was referred to The Royal Marsden and underwent curative treatment and surgery, under the care of Consultant Clinical Oncologist, Dr Aisha Miah.  

Maria always knew she wanted to be a mother one day and, on Dr Miah’s advice, was encouraged to explore egg retrieval and other fertility preservation treatment with her GP and fertility specialists. Thankful for being given the wonderful news of being all clear from her sarcoma in 2018, she and her husband Cejay successfully underwent IVF treatment. As a beautiful tribute, they named their 'miracle baby' Mia after Dr Miah.

“We all experience cancer some way and somehow in our lives, whether it's an uncle, a grandparent or a friend. First it was me, then my sister was diagnosed, and I have also lost two uncles and an auntie to cancer.

It’s horrible but you know when you can come out the other side, life feels different and I want to celebrate this chance at life again. When I'm thinking about Celebrating a Life, I'm thinking I have to make the most of what I have. I have to do it for my family."

I need to celebrate every day, the ones who are gone, but I also need to celebrate people like my sister and me and my baby – and I will name a star for all of us.

A choir group singing into microphones underneath a large Christmas tree decorated in stars and lights
Celebrate a Life - carol services under the Christmas tree

Maria’s cancer diagnosis 

"It's very strange because at the time I was diagnosed, I was very active and I was doing a lot of sport. I had just started kickboxing, and then at some point my leg started hurting really badly.

After a couple months of physiotherapy, the pain was only getting worse to the point that sometimes I couldn't walk. Imagine going from being really active to barely being able to walk 10 minutes. My physiotherapist was actually the one that got worried and advised I should go and have an MRI.

Following an MRI and then an urgent biopsy, I was told that it’s not good news. I'd never heard of people getting cancer in their limbs before. I knew of breast cancer and other more common cancers, but I never thought something like this could happen.

At the time, I had a new job in banking, a new boyfriend, plans to go to on holiday to New York – I was so excited for the future. Then your world just crashes down, everything fell apart in an instant.

It was at this point that they referred me to The Royal Marsden.

A turning point at The Royal Marsden

In hindsight, I feel like I was in such a negative attitude towards my oncologist. Dr Miah is the absolute best, I call her my angel. At the time she was trying to be nice, but also real with me. I just remember being like – ‘no, I'm not doing it, I don't want to lose my hair, I don't want to do all these procedures and things.’”

Two people lying together on a hospital bed in a hospital room, looking at a tablet device
Maria in bed at The Royal Marsden with Cejay by her side

"Doctor Strauss, who was my surgeon, came in the room and he sat down with me. He said ‘listen, you can do whatever you want, you're a free person, you can walk out of here and decide to go about this however you want. But I'll let you know now if we don't treat this the proper way and this comes back, it will be terminal and we are no longer going to be here to have this conversation with you.’ I remember that was the time where someone was so direct, I stopped being difficult and upset. And I said OK, I need to switch mode and it was a turning point for me.

The months that followed were really, really difficult. I had chemotherapy, radiotherapy and then surgery in September 2017. But, Dr Miah was amazing and really helped me look forward to the future, she said: ‘I know your age, I know that there are going to be things that you want in the future. So, we are going to set you up to do that.’

Looking to the future – starting a family

I knew I wanted to be a mother one day, that’s always been really important to me. Dr Miah was the one that made the suggestion of freezing my eggs and put me in contact with the hospital to start the egg retrieval process. The outcome was very successful for me! From the eggs that they retrieved, we went through IVF and it was successful the first time. We were so thankful for Dr Miah for initiating the process. So that's why when my baby was born, there was no doubt we called her Mia."

Two people looking down and smiling at a newborn baby
Maria and Cejay with newborn baby Mia

"I finished my cancer treatment in 2017, was given the 'all clear', I got married in 2020 and Mia was born in February 2022. It felt to me she was a miracle baby, someone was up there looking after me. Cejay has also been an absolute rock. We were dating for only five months when I was diagnosed and he completely stepped up. He's just very strong and very relaxed and was always there for me.

I feel like this whole experience has turned me into the person that I am today and the mother I am today. I am so much more grateful for everything I have and small things don't matter anymore. This is why I want to celebrate!”

Celebrate a Life is a truly wonderful way to celebrate the lives of those who are deeply special to you. By naming a star for someone special and making a donation, you are making a vital difference to the lives of cancer patients and their families.

Who will be your shining star?