The hallway just inside the hematology-oncology clinic in the Outpatient Care Center buzzes with anticipation.
Family, friends, doctors, nurses and other supporters gather to share 4-year-old Avalynn’s special moment. In early 2016, she was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). Over the past two years, she has overcome a compromised immune system, allergic drug reactions, many days and nights in the hospital, extreme nausea and even learning how to walk again.
Her family has lived by the numbers:
848 days of treatment
36 blood product transfusions
789 doses of chemotherapy
128 doses of steroids
36 painful Erwinaze (drug) injections
But today Avalynn gets to ring the bell … the moment she can symbolically put all of this behind her and move forward, away from shots and fevers and terrible tummy aches, and the unfairness of it all. Toward life after cancer.
“It’s the beginning of a new future, a new normal,” says Ava’s mom, Alyssa. “It’s everything we’ve dreamed of. You typically dream of sending your kid to kindergarten or to watch them graduate. You don’t typically dream of this day, but we have. It’s emotional.”
Ava’s dad, Dustin lifts her up. She reaches for the cord and rings the bell with gusto. She turns back to her exuberant crowd. She breaks into a wide grin.
This is victory. This is Ava’s day.