A Message from Gina:
In mid-February, we noticed a bump on the top of Ava’s head. We didn’t seem too surprised (Ava can play really rough with her older brother Tyler). Still, we would check it everyday. The bump did not go away, so I took Ava to her pediatrician. Her doctor said it was a simple cyst and we could leave it alone: no cause for alarm. She did say that if it bothered her, a dermatologist could remove it. So I took Ava to the dermatologist and she said the same thing: that it was just a benign cyst. The doctor suggested simply keeping an eye on it.
My husband and I both decided that we wanted it removed. This was supposed to be a simple in-office procedure that it wouldn’t take very long. That day, I was able to stay in the room with Ava. As I’m watching the doctor work on Ava I could see her struggling. Things didn’t seem right! Ava had local anesthesia so she was awake…I had to stay calm. I saw the doctor pull something out of Ava’s head, she paused & looked at it and had a confused look on her face. She continued to work on Ava. At this time, I really felt like something was wrong. She is digging in my daughter’s head & she pulled out another piece. Things weren’t right and the doctor asked me to leave the room. This was done on Friday March 8th. What was planned to be a simple procedure took 3 hours.
The doctor called me back into the room and said she couldn’t get it all. It wasn’t what she originally thought it was. She said it will be tested & she’ll give us the results. We started calling on Tuesday. Nothing. We called everyday several times. Friday, March 15th, we were told they found atypical cells and they’ll know more on Monday. Still nothing. Ava had to go back to the doctor, to get her stitches out, and we were to get the results. Ava and I waited in the waiting room, while the doctor talked with Todd. For some reason, we had a bad feeling and we didn’t want Ava in the room for the results.
“Honestly, I felt like it had to be a terrible mistake! Ava is healthy & strong it just doesn’t make sense!”
I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face as he walked towards us. He tried to act normal as we drove home. Once we got home we got Ava occupied with something so Todd could share with me the results: it was Lymphoma. I’ll never forget how horrible that day was. Todd felt the same way. Honestly, I felt like it had to be a terrible mistake! Ava is healthy & strong it just doesn’t make sense! I still started looking around for the best possible hospital. Todd and I agreed Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles would be best for Ava. I started calling to get her an appointment but they couldn’t schedule her yet, because we still didn’t know what type of lymphoma Ava had. I continued to call anyways and finally someone took my info…but we still had to wait until we knew what type she had.
Thursday, March 21st, I got the call. Ava had B-cell lymphoma. I called Children’s and we were in the next day (which happened to be the day before her birthday). Ava had surgery on Wednesday, March 27th, along with a small dose of chemotherapy. She’s had many tests, after that. On Friday, April 5th, Ava was admitted for her first full dose of chemotherapy. She will be on many medications and will have to come in weekly for her chemotherapy treatments.
Today is August 4th and Ava is a true hero. She has lost her hair twice and been in a wheelchair. She spend much of the last year in the hospital. She’s had her surgery for her port to be put in and another surgery for it to be removed. Ava’s has had many blood transfusions and countless lumbar punches. Our family has been very fortunate to receive a lot of support from our friends and family.
Ava recently sent an email to our city requesting that we put up bright yellow bows all over the town in honor of September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. We are ready to spread the word & raise awareness for all of the kids fighting cancer! Ava is still in treatment and won’t be finished until July 2015 but that won’t stop her! Ava is a strong girl, healthy, full of energy! She is always planning things. She cares very much about others. She is very smart, funny, silly and sweet. She is confident and very loveable.
Images by Flickr user dr_tr, under Creative Commons.