Maria’s Story

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Sometimes people write me out of the blue to say they are a fan of what I do, or they say they are big soccer followers and love the women’s game, or they write to recommend a good book or a good artist. I consider myself very lucky to receive these emails, but every once in a while, I get one that rocks my world.


Maria Couto is 17-years-old. She is currently fighting leukemia and wrote Ella and me a thank you email. She thanked me for being so open about my third surgery and the struggles I have been through. She thanked me for the Periscopes Live Ella and I have done and the blogs Ella writes. What struck me about Maria is that she had to give up soccer, but I know she really only gave up the game physically. In all the photos she sent, she is by a soccer field or is at a big game– some with a medical mask on but all with a smile on her face that speaks louder than ten thousand tongues. It seems like she isn’t taking one moment of her life for granted.


Maria. Your email floored me. You said I was inspiring – when really, you are the one. Maria’s entire soccer team made shirts with Maria’s face on them, and even though she had to quit the team, it’s quite obvious they haven’t quit on her. Struggle has a weird way of bringing people together, of making people realize what is truly important in life and in one another. I have never had to fight for my life. I cannot imagine wrapping my head around such a struggle at the age of 17. My recent injury reminded me to be grateful for every moment on the field, because I now know that you really never know when it will be your last… similarly, it seems having cancer has shown Maria and all those around her that every moment is precious and can also be our last. Period.


In many of the inspiring books I’ve read, death is a theme that comes up quite often. It comes up because the authors feel it’s important to remind everyone to embrace life. I saw something on Pinterest the other day, a photo of a quote board that said “Carpe the hell out of this diem,” and I couldn’t agree more.


Maria – thank you for reaching out and for helping me to see the bigger picture in life. Struggle, no matter how big or small, is something that can connect all of us. What we will find, as in the case with Maria, is if we are brave enough to share our struggle, we can then realize how incredible we are and can be.


“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today” – James Dean

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