While completing a routine checkup, Ava’s pediatrician noticed something out of the ordinary for a one-year-old – her head was two centimeters larger than the norm. Although two centimeters might not seem significant, her pediatrician became concerned and ordered a CT scan, which revealed a medulloblastoma tumor that consumed 75 percent of Ava’s cerebellum.
Choosing the right path
The predicted outcome using traditional radiation for the tumor was not very promising. During Ava’s five months of chemotherapy, her parents began researching different forms of treatment and discovered proton therapy. They were especially interested in the treatment because it could target the tumor area directly while limiting radiation exposure to healthy tissue and organs, potentially causing fewer issues with brain development.
Since Ava’s parents live in Houston, they decided that the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center would be the ideal place to treat their daughter’s rare tumor. Ava received a total of 25 proton therapy treatments.
During her time at the Proton Therapy Center, Ava bonded with the staff and became best friends with another patient named Joshua. Unfortunately, Joshua lost his fight against cancer. Ava drew inspiration from this loss and honored her best friend by writing a song in his memory.
Now, 10-year-old Ava is busy singing, writing and performing in the theater. Her other talents include playing the piano and guitar. For Ava, proton therapy helped her overcome her diagnosis, and she’s now back to enjoying life.