Hi Mamas! This week’s Meet a Mom feature is a very special one. Today we are showcasing Maria (MJ) Tabush – a local Mom to 3 kids and the face behind Spoonful of Joy Blog. If you don’t already follow her blog and social media – run and do it. She is so incredibly talented, creative and a light in this space. She makes magical moments for her family, sweet delicious treats, and shares about daily life. Today Maria shares a piece of her heart with us – she tells us all about her favorite local spots, her passions, and her journey with her daughter’s battle with Leukemia. In honor of Childhood Cancer awareness month we’d like to invite you to read about her journey and to make sure it is something that doesn’t end after this month – but that the awareness and support continues all year round. On October 15th Cypress Moms Network will be co-hosting a Moms Night Out event with Kendra Scott – 20% of proceeds will go towards an organization for childhood cancer and specifically in honor of her daughter, Emma Tabush.
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in town?
I’m originally from Guatemala. I have lived in Houston for 10 years and 6 years in Cypress – we moved from the Medical center to Cypress.
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
I have 3 kids Sebastian 18, Mia 5 and Emma will turn 2 in October.
One thing people would be surprised to know about you…
My passion for visual arts and creativity… I have a bachelors in graphic design, pastry chef diploma and after tons of online and in person courses a photographer.
Anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you through parenthood?
All moms that have helped me in one way or another, with experience, with tips or even just being honest about how messy their life is lol, that helps me a lot knowing that I’m not the only one struggling.
Favorite things to do with your kids around town?
We love exploring playgrounds and parks
Favorite local things to do in the Cypress area?
We have a tradition of getting ice cream every Friday. We have lots of favorite spots, but one of our favorites is Connie’s frozen custard.
Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor, or in the corporate world? Please share!
Currently taking a break from my photography business (but can’t wait to get back). I’m using my spare time to share my favorite things and tips related to motherhood, homemaking and lifestyle, and now Emma’s leukemia journey on my blog Spoonful of Joy.
Can you share your story about how childhood cancer has impacted you and your family?
It’s quite shocking how your life can change in a minute. I have always donated to St. Jude hospital, because It just seems right to help kids going through such a rough time and pain, yet I never pictured myself being one of those families.
Everything has happened so fast but at the same time days are so long… We knew something was wrong with Emma back in June, It took us about a month and 3 pediatric visits to get her diagnosed. She was super low in energy, crying more than usual, just wanted to be carried everywhere and some days she would have a low fever, but no other symptoms. One day I noticed lots of bruises on her legs and Google the symptoms and Leukemia came up. We went a third time to her Dr. (previous visits they couldn’t detect anything) they checked her and she was ok so we requested a blood work, her platelets were so low that we were sent directly to the Texas children in Katy, then she was transported by a life flight to the medical center. We stayed for about 10 days at the hospital and now she has to continue treatment as outpatient for about 2 and a half years.
Can you share your experience of what it’s like for a Mom navigating childhood cancer?
It’s a rollercoaster – one moment you are ok and grateful and the next minute you are in tears, feeling like you can’t do this anymore. But family, friends, cancer foundations, medical staff always come to the rescue.
It’s devastating seeing your daughter suffer while being cured (because the chemo is so toxic) but also seeing the whole family struggling, it’s physical and emotionally exhausting.
Feeling guilty about not giving the same attention and time to siblings is also really hard to handle. When you think you got a “routine” something changes and you have to adjust and change everything. I really don’t like planning far away because I know, everything can change at any moment.
Although I’m constantly tired I’m always finding a way to help my daughter feel better, to ease her pain or a way to cheer her up.
Is there anything you wish you could share with other Moms? Is it somehow preventable? What to look for/avoid, anything you’d like to share from your journey that would help other moms?
Childhood cancer is not preventable, there’s nothing you can really do to prevent it. And it’s not rare, 1 in 285 kids will be diagnosed with cancer.
Always trust your instinct. Doctors know about medicine, but you know your kids better than anyone else. If you feel and know that something is not right insist your Dr. that something is wrong.
How can we help Emma and other kids going through something similar?
This is a though question because it will really vary, depending on the family and what type of cancer or stage the kid is going through. Most of the time cancer moms don’t even know what to ask for… so my best advice is just help with what your gut feeling says to… don’t ask if “they need something”, just give whatever you can/want. Here are some thing we have received and have been really helpful:
-Comforting messages, sharing tips or foundations that might be helpful.
– Attend a cancer awareness event or support a foundation and let the family know that you made it in honor of their cancer kid.
– Meals: We have received online gift cards to order food (really useful because they can order the day they need it the most and order what they like.
– While at the hospital we received invitations to shower and have a warm meal at a house near the hospital. (We never accepted it but it was so nice to have someone offering it)
– Care packages with things the kids can get distracted.
Whatever you think it would bring them Joy 🙂 A really sweet mom that owns a soft play rental is bringing us soft play kit for a day for Emma to play. I would have never thought about asking for that, but this mom felt the need to help and I’m pretty sure Emma will enjoy this so much.
There are plenty of amazing cancer organizations that help cancer families, if you want to help but don’t know a kid going through cancer, just donate to any of these amazing foundations. (I have a guide of foundations on my Instagram) Or if you have a business, contact this foundations to see how you can help with your products/services.
How has this community been instrumental in your blog and now as your family goes through childhood cancer?
I love this community, I remember the first Cypress Moms Network event I attended – it was amazing and refreshing meeting moms that live around me. The weekend round up is a really good guide I usually look forward to it to plan our weekend.
It’s incredible the support and loved I have received from moms I have met through this community…from messages, meals, care packages to sharing tips, info, foundations or other moms they know that are going through this journey, they have been so helpful.
Can you share about the organization that people can donate to which aids in childhood cancer and specifically Leukemia as well?
Yes, these are great ones to donate to:
Alex’s Lemonade Stand in honor of Emma Tabush
Candlelighters – Childhood Cancer Family Alliance