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Ava's Story

Ava was just six-months-old when her mum, Jenny, heard her screaming, and ran into her to find Ava struggling to breathe, her eyes rolling into the back of her head and her lips turning blue. Without hesitation, Jenny put her in the car and drove her to the Emergency Department of Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick.Doctors originally thought Ava was choking on something, but after an examination failed to find any obstruction in her airway, she was put on a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit. Ava was then sent for scans which, much to the shock of her distraught parents revealed a five and a half centimeter cancerous tumor called a neuroblastoma in her chest and abdomen. The cancer had also spread to her bones.Little Ava was immediately started on a course of chemotherapy treatment, and spent the next 15 days in the Intensive Care Unit until she was able to breathe on her own. Over the next 12 months, she was in and out of Hospital, during which she endured eight rounds of chemotherapy and three operations to try and rid her of the tumors, one of which was entwined around her spine and considered too dangerous to operate on.While doctors were deciding on the next step in Ava’s treatment, it was discovered that thankfully the inoperable tumor had matured and become non-cancerous. Ava was able to stop her intensive treatment.These days Ava is back home with her family but continues to visit the Hospital every three months for scans, which will eventually reduce to six-monthly scans, the longer she is in remission.Now a bubbly two and half year old, Ava is out-going, bright and inquisitive and loves playing with her friends at daycare.“The staff at the Hospital was absolutely amazing, I could not fault anything,” Jenny said. “They treated Ava with so much care and make you feel part of a family, not just a patient.”
Update March 2023

Our “Little Star of Hope” has Grown up.

In early 2013 ALCCRF formed an amazing relationship with the Bell family. Dad Tony, Mum Jenny, and daughter Ave who all became Ambassadors and Ave our “Little Star of Hope”.Ava at 12 months old was diagnosed with a five and a half centimetre cancerous tumour called neuroblastoma in her chest and abdomen and the cancer had also spread to her bones.ALCCRF Funded the First Phase 2 Clinical trial of two novel drugs (Interferon and Valproate) in kids suffering from neuroblastoma. The clinical trial was coordinated by Prof Glen Marshall, and it involved Children’s Hospitals in Australia and New Zealand. During the Gol Week Telethon conducted by Channel 9 in Sydney in June 2012 Dr David Ziegler said this trail offers real hope for patients who have relapsed and who otherwise should be on Palliative care. Our goal is to make it part of the standard treatment for children newly diagnosed with neuroblastoma around the world.During this time the Bell family were going to District and Multiple District conventions. Telling their story of Ava and expressing their gratitude to Lions all over Australia.In 2017 Lions International invited the Family to go to Chicago to speak on stage at the Centenary International Convention, in front of 28,000 Lions to ask for their help for other kids   suffering from Cancer by supporting ALCCRF’s initiative in undertaking Genome Sequencing for kids with Cancer around the World.
Ava starting High School 2023
Anthony (Tony) Roney AM Vice Chairman ALCCRF
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