The Buhr family is looking forward to tomorrow probably more than anyone else they know. It will be their daughter, Ava’s, fourth birthday, made all more significant by the fact that she officially won her fight against cancer.
In November 2011, Ava was like any normal giggly, energetic 2 ½ year old, until she came down with a fever that lasted four days. A series of tests confirmed her parents’ worst fear: cancer. Ava was diagnosed with a type of childhood cancer called Pre-B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). She immediately began treatment and by Day 8 was declared in remission. But she still had more than two years of treatment ahead of her before the fight was over.
Through her medical team at INOVA Children’s Hospital in Fairfax, Virginia, Ava’s family learned about Believe In Tomorrow Children’s Foundation’s respite program. The timing was perfect. It was just what they needed, and it was the first time they would get away since Ava’s diagnosis.
The Buhr family spent a long weekend at the Believe In Tomorrow House on Wisp Mountain in Western Maryland at the end of December, with just enough snow to make their respite a snowy adventure! Ava’s favorite part was building snowmen and making snow angels outside. She also had an amazing time snow tubing and trying out ice skating for the first time.
Ava and her family enjoyed a second respite last summer at the Believe In Tomorrow House By The Sea in Ocean City, Maryland. They participated in activities like flying kites with the staff from the Kite Loft, taking a boat tour and horse sightseeing on Assateague Island, dining at Hooters, Mancini’s and Hooper’s Crab House, go-karting and mini golfing at Jolly Roger Amusement Park, and horseback riding at Autumn Grove Stables. Above all, Ava’s favorite part of the trip was gathering seashells on the beach.
Because of her treatment at the time, Ava had terrible leg pain. Her parents found that when she was in the sand and the ocean, she had so much more energy and her leg pain seemed to disappear!
“That was the most unbelievable vacation we’ve ever had,” said Ava’s mom, Jeannie. “Believe In Tomorrow let us ‘let loose,’ get away from everything, and not have to think about the doctors and hospitals.”
Ava and her family made friends with the other children and families staying at Believe In Tomorrow’s beach respite facilities. “To watch the children have so much fun together placed a huge smile on my face and warmed my heart,” said Jeannie. “We still stay in touch with several of the families we met there.”
Ava officially finished treatment just two weeks ago, on March 21st, and just in time for her fourth birthday tomorrow! With a princess party planned, and a bigger party later this summer to celebrate her beating cancer, Ava and her family certainly have a lot of big things to look forward to!