Shock. That’s all that Ava’s parents felt when they first heard she had a Wilms Tumor; a form of cancer found in children that originates in the kidneys.
Ava had never complained of pain, so even when the doctors told Ava’s parents that they had seen something in her kidney, cancer was the last thing on their mind. At just two years old Ava had gone from a completely healthy girl to a child needing surgery and chemotherapy. Ava’s mom, Melinda says one of the hardest parts was explaining it to Ava, “you can’t really explain to a toddler you’re going to get sick and you’re going to be in pain.” Finding out about their trip and the anticipation and excitement it brought, gave Ava and her family the strength and hope needed to get through all of her treatments and the difficult road ahead.
Ava asked Make-A-Wish to go to the Walt Disney World® Resort to see Cinderella’s castle. During the entire trip, Ava felt like a real princess from beginning to end-- from getting picked up in a limousine, to having a personal tour of the plane’s cockpit, and receiving a warm welcome by volunteers at Give Kids the World Village. One particular moment that Ava’s mom recalls as being extra special was when she visited the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Due to the chemotherapy treatments, Ava had lost her hair so the boutique employees made sure that Ava would be provided with a wig in any color of her choosing. She picked a reddish orange wig (just like Ariel) and was given a dress, completing her princess transformation. Melinda recalls spending their last day on the trip thinking “I just want to stay in this moment forever.
The trip had a wonderful impact on Ava and her family. The wish experience made Ava feel stronger, and she still even wears her wig around! It was incredible to Melinda to see just how meaningful a wish can be, not just for Ava, but for the rest of her family also. Melinda spoke about how Ava’s illness made her feel alone, but the whole experience of having a wish fulfilled for her child changed that as she said, “You don’t feel alone anymore and you feel like you have the support of the world and that is an amazing blessing.” Ava’s mother also shared that she knows that Ava will remember the trip forever.