The daily life activity of a 20-year-old usually doesn’t involve physical therapy, pain and an arsenal of medication. As for Yucaipa native, Maddie Cansler, who has endured numerous treatments, surgeries and procedures, while battling brain cancer, she remains optimistic and feels “blessed” to be alive.
Last week, family, friends and community members rallied around her to show her support with a drive-by parade of love.
On Wednesday, Oct. 14, vehicle after vehicle, stopped by to honor Maddie with honks and cheer. Participants taped balloons on their cars and others wrote heartfelt messages of hope and love on posters.
One of the event organizers, John Wrobel, said, “We organized the parade because we’re all family here and when something like this happens, we want to show our support. We want her to know that we are here for her and she has our love.”
Maddie and her family were outside in the driveway to witness the steady stream of cars parading by. She is the youngest child of Teresa and Jamie Cansler.
Teresa and the entire family were overcome with emotion at the support for Maddie.
“It was an outpouring of God’s love, through people and the most beautiful thing I have ever seen,” said her mother, Teresa. “It’s an honor to raise her … she is a beautiful person. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Her father, Jamie, concurred. “Our hearts as parents have always been and will remain, to seek to love, provide and protect,” he said. “But for some, life presents brokenness, where a child’s pain is beyond your ability to protect.”
He is thankful for “the generous support … from our friends, church and most recently from Yucaipa Valley Water District, who have been by her side for the past 10 years. We are blessed to be part of the YVWD family. Thank you.”
“My health has taken a turn,” said Maddie. “And they wanted to support my family and I during this dark time.”
A decade ago, Maddie was diagnosed with a glioma spinal cord brain tumor and the family received the grim news that life expectancy was just days.
“I was diagnosed on my 10th birthday,” she said. “I had two major spinal cord surgeries. The first surgery was when I was 10, to remove the tumor. I woke up as a quadriplegic and slowly gained strength.”
She underwent proton radiation but it took a toll on her tiny body. A second surgery followed and hardware was placed in her back.
Through it all, she attended Wildwood Elementary School, Inland Leaders Charter School, and eventually was home-schooled.
She credits her family and love in Christ, for making it through the past decade.
“I have hope in Christ. It’s all we have at the end of the day,” she said. “It’s all we have. To see his love through other people and seeing the love through others, that’s where our hope is found. My family is amazing. I am so blessed. They are sent from God. I could not have done this without them.”
She also thanked her church family at Wildwood Calvary Chapel.
“With other churches too, so many are rooting and praying for me and I am so grateful,” she said. “I just want to give God the glory.”
Meanwhile, her daily routine is a big hurdle to overcome.
Maddie undergoes blood work every couple of days in addition to grueling physical therapy and visits to medical facilities.
“I have some people that come in and help me work with my muscles - legs and arms and my mom helps me. She is one of my biggest supporters,” said Maddie. “I can’t move very well and am in bed all the time. My family is everything to me and I couldn’t do this without them. God blessed me with an amazing family. I am so grateful.”
In addition to writing her blog, Maddie enjoys going for drives, watching wholesome shows on Netflix, and she hasn’t given up hope for the future.
“Right now, so much of my time is taken up with medical, medication, that my hobbies have changed,” she said. “I believe in not taking your health for granted but also learning what life truly is. It’s about helping others and having that compassion. This isn’t (all there is). There is hope.”
For more information on how to donate to Maddie’s increasing medical bills, or to learn more about her inspirational journey, visit her blog, at Notashamed-maddiecansler.squarespace.com – there is a GoFundMe link on her page.