WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - You either love or hate mustard. But when it comes to the 'Mustard Challenge,' chances are you'll be thrilled when you hear the seven letter word playing a major role in the battle against childhood cancer.
Average and Naya Galyn Summy should not be used in the same sentence for so many different reasons.
For starters Naya was diagnosed with high-risk medulloblastoma, also known as brain cancer, when she was only nine-years-old.
"During the harshest time of the treatment, she was really able to stay happy. She was a happy child," her mother, Amy Summy explained.
Despite the unexpectedness of being told she had a tumor in her brain, Naya continued to believe in her dreams and had her life planned out.
"She was very wise. She had an old soul," her mother expressed.
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Naya had aspirations of attending Stanford University and intended on being a marine biologist. But her ambitiousness was far greater than what she planned out for herself. In less than two years, Naya was able to raise close to $500,000 for pediatric cancer research and cures which she donated to the Cancer Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
After braving brain surgery, radiation and chemotherapy and then relapsing only a year after she was diagnosed with cancer, there was no more that could be done for Naya.
"There were literally no other treatment options... they don't offer a lot of options for children with cancer," Amy explained.
She passed away when she was only 11. But before leaving her family behind, Naya asked for something extraordinary.
"This was Naya's request." She asked her family to continue raising awareness if she didn't make it. And that is exactly what No More Kids with Cancer is accomplishing.
Their mission is to discover safer, non-toxic and more effective treatments for children with cancer. "The drug Naya was taking was ancient, from the 50s. One of the drugs is a derivative from mustard gas. They were putting harsh and old drugs into Naya," her mother elucidated.
Even if she had been fortunate enough to live, she would've more than likely dealt with the side effects of the drugs for the rest of her life.
"That's what got us on this path. We need new research, different drugs and new therapies," Amy voiced.
And that is where the Mustard Challenge ties in, which just kicked off on April 15 and conveniently ends on National Mustard Day in August. The challenge sheds light on the 1950s era treatments and specifically targets the mustard gas derivatives that are used to treat kids with cancer.
To get involved, all you have to do is film yourself eating a spoonful of hot and spicy mustard and then challenge four friends to do the same. Post the video to social media, tag your friends and use the hashtags #MustardChallenge #NoMoreKidswithCancer. Plus you can donate funds to mustardchallenge.com to help fight childhood cancer. All donations go to research.
Amy has her hands full as an executive working for a multi-billion dollar company and carrying on Naya's legacy -- but somehow she manages to balance it all out.
"I'm giving myself to things that I really care about. Unfortunately losing Naya gave this foundation life and I have to do it for her," Amy made clear.
In these situations Amy said it's important to take everything "a day at a time, as cliché as that may sound."
"There are silver linings even in the worst cases."
No More Kids with Cancer is definitely one of those silver linings.
Naya may no longer be here but her presence lives on with No More Kids with Cancer and the Mustard Challenge, which is gaining steam and attention including from former NBA player, David Robinson.
Just took the challenge, check it out!#nomorekidswithcancer#MustardChallenge pic.twitter.com/x5oRpYmIzl— David Robinson (@DavidtheAdmiral) April 18, 2017
In such a short time frame Naya did something many will never accomplish and managed to leave words of wisdom behind: “You have to look at the upside of things. You have to find things to do to keep enjoying every day, things that just make you happy.”
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