Family brings joy to 6-year-old daughter battling terminal cancer

BUCKEYE, Ariz. (FOX 10) - The Rodriguez family has been through a lot this year.

"A few weeks after her initial diagnosis, we would still cry every now and again and just kind of lose ourselves and then one day she came up to me and gave me a hug and said, 'it's OK,' and she said 'don't worry,' and I'll never forget that day," Anthony Rodriguez said. "So ever since that day, there's not a reason to be so sad."

Their 6-year-old daughter, Zaliyah, was diagnosed with a form of terminal cancer and since they received the tragic news, they have dedicated themselves to making their last days with her time well spent.

"Everyday that we wake up and she's ready to go, I try to think about how I can maximize everyday," Anthony said. "It's so crazy to realize a 6-year-old can teach somebody who's been here for 33 years how to be positive."

At first hired to document their loving memory, Alicia Atkins has also been there every step of the way in Zaliyah's journey and has now become a close friend of the family.

A photographer trying to capture every moment of a brave little girl who's touched so many.

"She's amazing, she's just amazing," Atkins said. "I can't imagine my life without her now."

Everyday she wakes up to a gift, but she's also given her loved ones something special to keep.

"She made a personal voice recording for each bear for person," Anthony said. "Mom got a special message. I got a special message, and all of her friends and people that..."

A customized Build-A-Bear, so even in her absence, they will always have something of Zaliyah that they can hold onto for a lifetime.

"I still don't know what to do and I just get my feel from her everyday she wakes up and she's like, 'let's go,'" Anthony said.

If you would like to make a donation to Zaliyah and her family, you can do so here.