Maya’s Mum, Sangita, loved helping others. She regularly volunteered and fundraised for different organisations and giving back to the community played a big part in her life. So when she passed away earlier this year, 16-year-old Maya wanted to continue her generous legacy by raising vital funds for Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice.
Read Maya’s inspirational story below and discover why she decided to cut off her hair to help more local families who are living with life-limiting illness.
My Mum was the happiest and most positive person that I knew. She was always telling jokes to try and make people smile and she always made sure that everyone was ok before her – she really was the most amazing person. So when she passed away just a few months ago, I knew I wanted to do something that would have made her proud.
It was earlier this year when my Mum started to have really bad back pain. After a couple of tests and a MRI scan, we received the heart-breaking news – she had cancer and it was of unknown primary. I was completely devastated but Mum never faltered – she remained her upbeat and positive self and continued to put other people’s feelings before hers.
When Mum was first admitted to the Inpatient Unit at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, my Dad and I received a flurry of worried messages from our family and friends. But Mum, Dad and I knew a little about hospices before we came here and we knew they weren’t the scary or sad places that people sometimes think they are.
That’s because, when I was younger, our family used to volunteer at another hospice in Wales. Every August Bank Holiday, we’d make the trip down there and sell corn to help raise funds. So when Mum came to Birmingham St Mary’s, we were able to reassure our loved ones that she was just going in for pain management to help improve her quality of life. And sure enough, Mum came home just three weeks later.
Whilst Mum was at the Hospice, she was made to feel really comfortable and valued – and that was so important to us. Mum was a people person and she enjoyed chatting to the nurses, doctors and volunteers, as well as the other people who were staying at the Hospice. The nurses always made time to sit and chat with her and they were so responsive to her needs.
The staff and volunteers had a really caring nature to them too. They didn’t just look after Mum – they always took the time to chat to me, my Dad and our family as well. They knew who we were when we visited and would always say hello and check how we were doing. When you’re so focussed on thinking about someone else, it’s nice to have someone ask you how you’re feeling and how you’re getting on.
When Mum came back home, we had a specialist nurse from the Hospice come and visit us regularly. Sadly though, Mum’s pain started to get worse and so we started making plans for her to come back to the Hospice. It was only a short time after that Mum passed away.
Losing Mum was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through. Soon after she died, I started to meet up with Beth at the Hospice, who is a children’s worker there. Talking to Beth has been really useful – it’s just good to have someone I can chat to who isn’t part of my family and together, we can have really honest and open conversations.
Mum’s positivity is something I try to carry with me, even after everything that has happened. She was such a happy person and I’m so grateful that the doctors and nurses at the Hospice helped manage her pain so that she could continue doing what she loved best – making other people laugh and smile. As Mum was such a giving person, I wanted to do something that would honour her generous and kind values. That’s why I decided to cut off 28 inches of my hair to raise money for the Hospice.
When Mum was 18-years-old, she grew her hair so long that it reached her feet! I loved her long hair and it became a fun competition between us to see who could grow the longest hair. So when I started thinking of ideas to raise money for the Hospice, I knew cutting my long hair was the way to go. I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it and when I walked into school the next day with my bobbed haircut, my teachers and friends couldn’t believe it!
Chopping my hair did the trick though as soon enough, my friends and family started sponsoring me and I’ve now raised just under £2,000 for the Hospice. I also donated my hair to The Little Princess Trust, which creates wigs for children who have sadly lost their own hair due to illness.
Although it felt slightly strange to cut all my hair off, I feel so proud to have done something good to give back to the Hospice. Fundraising and supporting the local community was so important to my Mum, so it feels good to do something that celebrates her legacy.
Thank you Maya for sharing your story with us. If you would like to find out more about the different services at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice – including care provided at the Hospice, in people’s homes and bereavement support – please take a read here.
If you’ve been inspired by Maya’s story, why not make a donation to her fundraising page or discover fun ideas on how you can raise money for the Hospice.