A little girl who has spent the last year battling an aggressive form of cancer was able to play on a swing in a playground with her baby brother for the first time after undergoing a life-changing double transplant.
Ava is just weeks shy of her third birthday, and has already endured grueling treatments since she was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma in 2018.
But for the first time in weeks, she was able to go outdoors and celebrate the sunshine with her parents, Leanne and James, and her baby brother, Angus.
A little girl who has spent the last year battling an aggressive form of cancer was able to play on a swing in a playground with her baby brother for the first time
The terrified mum and dad were told that Ava’s (pictured) best chance for survival is a new trial treatment only available in New York City, which carries a hefty $350,000 price tag
Originally, Leanne thought that Ava (pictured) was struggling with teething issues, as she wasn’t sleeping and was always crying
Leanne said Ava was able to be ‘disconnected from all her lines’ for a few hours during the day and ‘have a play on the swings outside hospital’, where she is currently in the midst of another intrusive treatment.
‘I cannot explain how much being outside positively changed her. She was so full of energy, so happy and fearless,’ her mother said.
‘She kept saying ”look at me go higher, I’m a brave girl” – yes she is, more than she knows.’
She went on to say the last six weeks of treatment have been particularly difficult, and had ‘taken its toll’.
Leanne said Ava was able to be ‘disconnected from all her lines’ for a few hours during the day and ‘have a play on the swings outside hospital’, where she is currently in the midst of another intrusive treatment
What is Neuroblastoma?
* Neuroblastoma is the most common solid tumour of childhood. It is almost exclusively a childhood cancer occurring most commonly between the ages of 0-5 years.
* It is a solid tumour arising from particular nerve cells which run in a chain-like fashion up the child’s abdomen and chest and into the skull following the line of the spinal cord.
* Neuroblastoma is a rare disease with about 40 children diagnosed with neuroblastoma each year in Australia.
* At one end of the spectrum are benign tumours that may even resolve spontaneously, while at the other end are aggressive tumours with an average survival rate of 40 per cent.
Source: Neuroblastoma Australia
‘I’ve been feeling very low, exhausted and just defeated. Seeing how much being outside brought back her spark gave me a little boost too,’ she said.
Ava is now in the second phase of her tandem transplant – a treatment specifically for children with high-risk cancer that kills off bone marrow beyond repair.
After the bone marrow has been destroyed, Ava then begins the ordeal of transfusing the stem cells back into her body and waiting to see if her body accepts them.
The process in its entirety takes nearly three months, and Ava is required to spend that entire period in her hospital room, limited to just four guests for the process.
But her parents Leanne and James say Ava is a fighter, and their little girl has remained in high spirits throughout the ordeal so far.
Ava will now continue to work alongside physiotherapists to gain control of her body back after weeks of being bedridden.
‘Eight cycles of chemotherapy, surgery and TWO transplants can’t keep her down… the end is in sight’.
Doctors initially believed she might not make it to her fifth birthday, but her treatments have given her a new lease on life.
‘Ava remains a shining star, a bright beacon of positivity and happiness despite what is thrown at her,’ Leanne said of her daughter (pictured)
The family must now turn their sights on preparing Ava to travel across the world for a lifesaving vaccine only available at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City.
But the treatment itself comes with an eye-watering price tag of $350,000, and the family established a GoFundMe page to help with the associated costs.
‘We ask for the help of others to help save our little girl and give her the gift that all of us have and want for our own children – the gift of a happy life,’ the parents wrote on their GoFundMe page.
‘This journey has by far been the most difficult that James and I have ever (and probably ever will) face. But Ava remains a shining star, a bright beacon of positivity and happiness despite what is thrown at her.’
To donate to Ava and her family, visit the GoFundMe page, Ava’s Journey, here. You can also follow for updates on Facebook.