Silver Fern Maria Tutaia says all of those she's met during her time as an ambassador for CanTeen – the charity helping young people living with cancer – have made an unforgettable impression.

But there is one – CanTeener Amanda Beaton – who continues to inspire her to do all she can for the organisation.

Amanda was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma four years ago, and last year was the face of CanTeen's Bandanna Challenge.

Sadly, in June this year, Amanda lost her life to the disease, aged just 25.

Maria met Amanda on several occasions and recalls a "beautiful person" who seemed to be winning her battle against cancer.

"I had no idea that she was on the downhill. I was very sad to hear that she had died. I felt I could have been there more for her," Maria says.

"Amanda made a huge legacy and I just want to make her proud."

The 25-year-old netball star knew there would be both heartwarming and heartbreaking moments when she signed up to the charity four years ago.

Maria reveals emotions often overwhelm her after a visit to the CanTeen offices or Auckland's Starship Children's Health to see those in for treatment.

"I don't like to show my emotion in front of them [the CanTeeners]. It's hard to try to understand and feel what they are even slightly going through," she says.

But Maria is continually impressed by their positive and courageous approach to life.

"They know they've got to make the most of each day, but their tenacity, their attitude, their fight and their smiles amaze me," says Maria, who, along with other celebrity ambassadors including All Black Dan Carter and surfer Paige Hareb, has designed bandannas to sell at this year's CanTeen Bandanna Challenge from September 14 to 30.

Maria is particularly inspired by teens Noah Lockett-Turton, 16, and Waiariki Rakena, 18, who joined her to front this year's Bandanna Challenge TV ad.

Noah was diagnosed with pineal cancer in his brain two years ago and is in remission. Waiariki has T-cell lymphoma, a cancer of the blood, and has just finished treatment.

"Waiariki and Noah were hilarious," says Maria, who recently spent a day filming with the pair.

"They don't seem fazed by what's going on in their lives and that's really heartening. It's getting the word out that you don't have to deal with this alone."

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