I met Maimah about a year after I arrived in the US almost 22 years ago. I was a freshman and I was walking through the halls of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Maimah was and is very strikingly beautiful. Behind her petite frame and absolutely gorgeous face is a powerhouse and even though I was young, I could read that about her inner core the moment we met. She wasn’t just a butterfly, she was/is a tigerlily. Tender, yet tough. Her hair was so full and was a deep rich jet black color. Her voice so soft and gentle. The most incredible thing about Maimah was her heart. She gave from her soul and she never got angry. We became fast friends and our families got to know each other. She was an immigrant like me and she was from Liberia. I never met anyone from Liberia until Maimah. One of the things I love about America is the opportunity to connect with people from various cultures and find that we have more similarities than differences. Fast forward to some 15 years after we first met, imagine my shock when I found out she was diagnosed with breast Cancer. Nooooo Not Maimah
During that summer I was experiencing a very painful thing myself. My late husband at the time was undergoing Chemotherapy due to being diagnosed with Bone Marrow Cancer. I think I had what I would call blind faith because I believed he would conquer it and she would too. I had such a childlike faith most of my life. I would always believe the best even in the worst situations.
My brother was getting married at that time and my boys and I flew down to Pennsylvania for the event. Before the wedding, I rented a car and drove about 3 plus hours alone to Virginia to see Maimah. She was so happy to see me. She still looked beautiful except she had lost so much weight and was very frail. She was depressed, she didn’t have an appetite to eat and she didn’t believe in God anymore. I met her mom and her beautiful 91 year old grandma and her daughter, Noelle who was about 3 years old at the time. I felt Maimah had given up and she didn’t care if she lived or died. I forced her to eat something, then I prayed with her. We went to run and errand and when we came back, she took off her wig! Wow! Her head was totally bald, not even a small hair follicle was on her shiny head. I hugged her ever so tightly and prayed that she would survive and that I would see her alive again. She called me not long after that to tell me she started praying again and she made a pact with God. I was glad.
I drove back that same day to be with the rest of my family and participated in my brother’s wedding.
I came back to my own reality and continued believing for the best for those who I loved to successfully win this battle against cancer. Maimah started getting better and not long after that she started to talk to me about a foundation she was forming to help those who were struggling with breast cancer. The name of her organization was Tigerlily Foundation just like her nickname and email address. How perfect that was, I thought.
I thought it was an excellent idea and I was glad she was feeling better and was channeling her energy towards something meaningful that would be a blessing to others. She wanted me to be a part of it. She wanted me to be on the board. I had too much going on and I couldn’t see myself doing it halfway. She understood. My husband at the time, lost his battle with cancer and it took some time to get myself together.
Maimah was always there for me. She comforted me by calling me all the time and sent me messages to lift my spirits. She inspired me to make something of the life I have now. No matter how low I was feeling, if I still had a heart beat, I still had a purpose God wanted me to accomplish.
Maimah has been on Oprah, Good Morning America and many other television shows and magazine publications. She has published a book, launched a magazine and touched so many lives in the 9 years since her diagnosis. She has events yearly to raise funds for breast cancer research and to help those who are battling with the disease in anyway possible. She’s one of my hero angels on earth. We speak often and we saw each other not too long ago. Her daughter Noelle is so precious and is quite the young lady.
I know God is only just getting started with her. She’s a beacon of light and I truly believe that God kept her alive for many reasons. One of which is to prove that anything is possible with God. Something which was meant to kill her gave her strength and she used that to change the trajectory of her life and is now singing a new tune.
My Tigerlily. Maimah. The best is set to come.
Thanks for reading. You can go to Maimah’s website to find out more about her and her mission. www.maimahkarmo.com and checkout the foundation’s website if you want to donate or support her efforts. www.tigerlilyfoundation.org
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