Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
Sherri, the owner of Regina WP Creations, shares her story of advocacy for Childhood Cancer awareness after losing her daughter, Ava, at the age of 4 in 2011.
“Your daughter has cancer.”
No parent should ever have to hear those words. No two year old either.
But yet, there we were, in the ER late on a Friday night. It was August 8, 2008 and my entire world was flipped upside down when the doctor, very factually, stated to me that Ava had leukemia. There was no question. There were no errors. This was it and the horrible world of childhood cancer began for us.
You may be reading this and think, it will never be you or your child. There was a day when I, too, wasn’t a cancer mom. But let me tell you, cancer does not discriminate. It can happen at any age, no matter your ethnicity, your social status, where you live, it can happen to anyone. But when it happens to an innocent child who is at the very start of her little life, it is beyond cruel.
So, I ask you now to stay, to read to the end of this article so you can know of the facts and the statistics. Our children need us and we need to do better for our children. The statistics are staggering and the outcomes are not good. We need to do more for this extremely underfunded disease: Childhood Cancer.
Did you know that in Canada?
Childhood cancer is the number one cause of death by disease for kids aged 1 to 19, more than any other disease and more than all other childhood diseases combined.
There are about 10,000 kids living with cancer in Canada today.
1 in 5 children will die from their cancer.
In the last 34 years there have only been 4 new treatments approved by Health Canada for cancer kids.
By age 45, 80% of survivors have a life-threatening health condition – directly resulting from harsh treatment with chemotherapy and radiation.
Currently Childhood Cancer only receives 5% of the total research funding for cancer.
My daughter, Ava Hope, was one of the 1600 Canadian children diagnosed with cancer in 2008 – one month before she turned two years old. She endured 5 rounds of harsh chemotherapy treatments for a rare and aggressive form of AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia). We lived in the hospital for the majority of 6 months. Not only did we have a two year old enduring cancer, but we had a two month old baby as well. Ava was declared cancer free after the first round of chemo and we completed all cycles and returned home in February 2009.
Sweet Ava (right), her parents and little sister Alivia (left)
In September, Ava turned three years old and five days later relapsed. Again, we endured 5 rounds of intense chemo in Regina and then traveled to Calgary where she had a stem cell transplant in January 2010. We lived in Calgary for 5 months. Ava did amazingly well and again, was declared cancer free! We had a wonderful 16 months with thoughts that the disease was behind us. This was not the case. At a routine check up in June 2011, we discovered Ava had relapsed again. We chose to leave our Ava alone this time and not subject her to any more harsh treatments. Ava passed away in July 2011, at her home with her family and dogs with her, at the tender age of 4 years 10 months. We have lived without our Ava for 8 years. She and so many other children who have passed away, deserved better than what she got and so she drives us to do better for children.
Since September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, I certainly do my best to advocate the most at this time of year. I have coordinated flag raising events at Regina City Hall and the Saskatchewan Legislature, requested the RCMP Heritage Centre light up gold for September, been interviewed for the Regina Leader Post and have appeared on CTV Morning Live Regina 7 years in a row. Honouring Ava and leaving a legacy in her name is very important to me.
Somehow in the years since we have lived without Ava, my family has still had many joyful moments. We believe Ava taught us to live each day to the fullest and not to let anything stop you from enjoying life!
Forever with us
In Ava’s last few weeks of life, I contacted my local WP artist as I didn’t own the business then. She casted Ava’s hand and foot and we treasure this beautiful keepsake of our sweet girl! We also have fingerprint jewelry and photo crystals of Ava.
Ava. Our WP Creations family's inspiration
Ava’s the inspiration behind this month’s promotion! When you purchase a shadow box in the month of September, we will donate $25.00 to Childhood Cancer Canada. This is such a worthy cause!
There are many other kids with a story similar to Ava’s. I have created keepsakes for other families of other children with terminal cancer. As a national franchise chain, many of our locations have also done so. We hear the similar stories across the country which is another reason why this campaign is so important.
Thanks for reading and thanks for considering donating to this worthwhile cause!
For The Month Of September $25 From Every Shadowbox Will Be Donated
Sherri has owned and operated Regina WP Creations since 2012. She lives in Regina with her family: husband, Randy, daughters: Alivia and Anaya, and dogs: Maggie and Elmo.
You can read more about Ava’s family journey at Sherri’s blog