Ava's Story: Cancer Through the Eyes of a Six Year Old

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Each day a different guest blogger will be featured who will generously share their personal experience with childhood cancer.  Stories are always more potent than statistics.     

By Ava, as interviewed by Esther Lee 

Tell me a little about yourself. 

My name is Ava and I am almost seven years old.  I have one sister, Gwen, one brother, Jude, and I have a Mom and Dad. I also have a dog, Pippin. My favorite thing to do is to ride bikes with my family. I also like to play doctor with my sister. I have a lot of experience with nursing because I watch my nurses take care of me!

Shine on, Ava!

Shine on, Ava!

Tell me a little about your cancer.

It's been hard to have cancer. Chemo and having to get prepared for a transplant and knowing that I have leukemia was hard for me. It was hard to lose my hair because without hair I feel like I'm not a complete person. But I'm happy and thankful for everybody who has supported me through every step of the way.

What else was hard about cancer?

It is hard having to stay in the hospital because I missed being around my family. Gwennie had to stay at the Ronald McDonald House and sometimes Daddy had to stay with her. Gee, I've tried to forget all this stuff.

There are some things about cancer that did good. It helped people know God better and pray and brought people closer to God. All these medicines stink because of the side effects like dizziness, stomach aches, hunger from Predinsone. Prednisone makes you retain water and get chubbier. This makes me feel sad because I didn't look this way before. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I look so different than I did before. I feel like I'm looking at a complete stranger. And that makes me feel very, very sad.

AVA4

But I'm happy because I have a great family and great things like a house, good doctors to take care of me, and siblings to play with me and keep my company, and a dog for companionship. And a great Mom and Dad to comfort me when I am in need.

How did you feel about going to school while having cancer?

I felt tired and I didn't know what was going on. I would miss the questions and I would be called on, but I wouldn't know the answer. That made me feel nervous and embarrassed. I felt kind of shy and sad sometimes because lots of people teased me for looking different. One time in the lunchroom, someone asked me why I had a Sophia The First lunchbox. And I said, "because I like her." And he said, "Boys aren't supposed to like her." I said, "I'm a girl." He said, "where is your hair?" I said, "I have cancer and the medicine makes my hair fall out. That's a great question!" I wasn't bothered by that.

I'm going to go back to school after my one year post-transplant time, so that makes me feel happy. I'm going to be held back because I missed lots of school and it makes me feel sad because I wanted to go to second grade with my friends.

Do you think it is important to spread awareness about cancer?

Yes, so that many more children can live. If they know more about it they can give blood, run a Be the Match drive, raise money to give to a foundation that can help find a new way to cure cancer. This will help children not have to go through such a hard time.

Ava spent Christmas 2014 in the hospital, post transplant.  Santa still found her, but was careful to keep all isolation precautions, like gloves, gown, and mask.

Ava spent Christmas 2014 in the hospital, post transplant. Santa still found her, but was careful to keep all isolation precautions, like gloves, gown, and mask.

What can our family do to help kids with cancer?

We can encourage them not to give up!

Ava recently lost a second tooth.

Ava recently lost a second tooth.

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Ava is 10 months post transplant with a cord blood transplant and will be celebrating her one year transplant anniversary on November 21, 2015! She will repeat first grade due to a year and a half of missed school. Her favorite things to do are to play with the family, swing on her swing set, play with her dog, and read books.

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