Our life changed in June 2010, when then 6 month old Ava was found to have a tumour in her cerebellum. The only symptom was an increase in the circumference of her head. Ava underwent a successful operation and was started on a year long course of chemotherapy.
For a while, for the summer of 2011, everything was fine, but in the autumn she was diagnosed again. It was the beginning of another, more aggressive round of treatment. Chemotherapy, stem cell transplant and radiation. This was in addition to more than two years of maintenance therapy at home. We beat the disease.
In the summer of 2015 Ava’s blood count was starting to decrease. She was diagnosed with APL, a rare form of leukaemia, which in children only presents as a secondary cancer. Our whole lives were turned upside down. Now, in January 2016, the disease is in remission and the treatments are ongoing until April.
Ava has a big brother. He has had a difficult time of it with her sister being so ill. When Ava is in hospital for weeks at a time, her big brother stays with a foster family in Punkaharju. We are living out of suit cases and miss each other so much.
At times I am living at the far end of my capabilities to cope. I have gotten support and my true friends have been with me all the way, I have also made some new ones.
Ava turned six in December. She is a happy and sociable child with a wild streak, and she doesn’t seem to have any worries or stress regarding her illness. Hospital is a second home to her.
The harsh treatments have left Ava with mild disabilities. With dogged determination she has learned to walk and her speech is improving all the time. She eats with the help of a PEG. At this moment in time, Ava is an enthusiastic pre-schooler.
Cancer has dictated our life for the past six years, and will continue to be there as a part of it. That is a fact we just have to live with.
Life is here and now. I’ve learnt that much, if nothing else.