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She has cancer.
And it suddenly seemed as if the world had stopped, frozen in a time when I should have been happy. Grief and sorrow struck out and clasped their cold hands around my chest and wouldn’t let go. I felt like I needed to vomit, to get rid of all the poison building up inside of me. Why?
It all started when we were home. Ava was playing and she tripped, her three year old body still wobbly and unbalanced. Her pale face struck the corner of the coffee table. She wailed out in pain and I was instantly by her side. I held her close to my chest and tried to get her to calm down. Eventually my poor little baby stopped crying and I stroked her face. Shock flushed through my body. A black crescent moon caressed her face just where the table had struck her. Instantly I knew something wasn’t right. Something was wrong.
When we arrived at the hospital they did blood tests, the diagnoses was Leukemia.
She has cancer.
Minutes later they told me that in order to save my little Ava I would have to allow a blood transfusion. My poor little baby didn’t understand as they stuck her with needles and hung up the bag of blood, that I was trying to save her life.
Afterwards the doctor came in and told me everything that I would have to do to save my daughter. She can’t eat fresh fruits or vegetables. She can’t eat salt, keep her at home for six months, stow her away so she won’t get sick.
What can she do, I asked.
Right now let’s just take things slow, the doctor replied.
She has cancer.
We instantly started the hardest part of treatment, Chemo Therapy. The doctors insisted on putting in a port to allow an easier entrance for the medicine into my daughter’s body. It was a hole the size of a quarter put under her chest. She didn’t understand that I was trying to save her life. She only knew that she wasn’t feeling good and that the medicine I was giving her was the cause.
After four days in the hospital Ava was ready to go home. She was done playing with all her stickers and her mini iPad. When the nurses came in to check her vitals, she threw the sheets over her head and hid. When they left she turned and looked at me and said, That was a close one, Mommy. A smile split her face and broke my heart.
They’re trying to save you, I thought.
Then they discharged her.
At home it seemed like everything had changed. My sweet Ava was sick, she wasn’t herself.
The doctors told me that there was a small chance that the backbone to the Chemo medication could cause her to have an allergic reaction. She was in that small percentage.
Her throat started to swell, paralyzing her voice box and causing her voice to squeak and go shrill. She didn’t understand that either. They told me that they might have to cut a small hole in her throat to save her life and take her off the Chemo treatment. They could put her on another drug, one that would enlarge her heart and cause problems for the rest of her life. It seemed that no matter what I did I was failing to save my daughter.
She has cancer.
And nothing less matters.
I would watch her as she picked up her newly opened birthday presents, just a few weeks ago, and she played with them. She was so happy when she corralled all her horse, squealing at me to look. Look, Mommy, look! Then she would get too tired to play, the sick poison coursing through her veins, and she would crawl back up on my lap and rest.
This isn’t right. This wasn’t supposed to happen.
This would be our life for two and a half years before we could safely stop aggressive treatment. For two and a half years I would be living in my own personal hell.
Ava looks up and gives a weak smile.
I’m trying, Ava, I’m doing all I can to save you.
And it seems like we're running out of time.