In the days leading up to her trip to Walt Disney World® Resort, 5-year-old Ava watched Disney movies. After seeing each of the princesses on screen, she would excitedly say “we are going to meet her!” While exploring the Magic Kingdom on her wish, Ava met all her favorite princesses. The smile on her face sparkled brighter than the princess’ gowns.
“We will most remember our 5-year-old daughter having the absolute time of her life,” Ava’s mom, Bethany, said.
Two years ago, Ava’s doctors found a 5.5 cm tumor in her brain. Since then, she has had two craniotomies. When Ava’s parents, Bethany and John, found out their daughter would need to have a second craniotomy, they asked her if she could handle another one. Her answer was a forceful “yes.”
“It certainly makes you try to live every day like it could be your last, and to make sure we hold our kiddos a bit tighter each day,” Bethany said. “It has also shown us that you really can’t plan for anything.”
Ava has also gone through countless MRI’s and 30 rounds of proton radiation. She loves going to school, but her doctor’s appointments and treatment often pull her out. Through all of this, she has remained strong.
It was coincidence that Ava and her family happened to go to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital’s Skyline Café dinner one night after Ava’s second craniotomy. Make-A-Wish® volunteers were there, and Bethany had happened to start talking with a family about their wish trip. Bethany looked over at her daughter, her head wrapped and swollen from surgery, making Ava unrecognizable, and she knew they had been there for a reason.
“I thought ‘wow, that would be so amazing for her,’” Bethany said. “She has had two years of her childhood devoted to beating brain cancer, and has gone through so much during her four years of life.”
That same evening, Bethany researched Make-A-Wish and found that her daughter qualified. She filled out the referral form right there in the hospital. From there, Ava’s wish experience began.
“I would like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, all of the people that made Ava’s wish our reality,” Bethany said. “Ava is the most precious 5-year-old, and part of her childhood has been taken away from her.”
While on her wish, Ava could enjoy her childhood again. She was given a break from her crazy life and could take some time with family to laugh, explore and imagine a life beyond her cancer.
“This trip will certainly help our fighter to continue to be brave and to win her battle — thank you,” Bethany said.
From the beginning of her wish experience to the very end, Ava didn’t have to worry about a thing besides having fun. Although Ava and her family didn’t know what to do once she was diagnosed, on this trip they knew they only had one thing to do: enjoy time together as a family.
“In a world full of evil, there is so much good, especially with Make-A-Wish,” Bethany said.