Avery’s medical journey began in August 2016. Her parents noticed that one of Avery’s eyes was protruding, so they took her to see her pediatrician. After being transferred to an ophthalmologist and eventually the emergency room, Avery underwent a biopsy and CT scan. The next week Avery was officially diagnosed with eye cancer and immediately began chemotherapy. A few months later, Avery’s family took her to Boston to undergo radiation treatments; recently she was able to return home and is now finishing up her last stretch of chemotherapy.
At Make-A-Wish®, we work hard to bring hope, strength and joy to our Wish Kids. Giving them a glimpse of happiness and allowing them to direct their focus away from their treatments and upcoming doctor’s appointments is an important aspect of the wish experience.
Avery’s mom, Tasha, recently sent us a photo of her to keep in her file. As you can see, it is a picture of her grinning from ear to ear. There is a special twinkle in her eye that shines brighter than the reflection of the sun off the gold balloons. Upon receiving the photo, we were immediately captured by the youthful spirit Avery emulated through the camera and wanted to know more about what made this wonderful little girl so lively despite her life-threatening condition.
Tasha explained that this photo of Avery means a lot to her family. She said, “Living life with our four year old who had cancer, as you can imagine, was difficult in so many ways, and it was awful to watch our happy little girl disappear into an illness. Her vibrant zest for life had diminished, and it crushed our entire family”. When Avery’s family hosted a photo shoot for their little girl, they decided to buy some balloons to cheer her up. The balloons were gold to represent pediatric cancer.
“I was nervous as to how these photos would turn out,” Tasha recalled, “but the balloons put the biggest smile on Avery’s face- a smile that has not been present in months!” Tasha told us fondly of how they stood watching Avery blossom in front of the camera that day. “The laughter and happiness that was captured was incredible, tears certainly fell, and I will forever cherish these photos for so many reasons.”
It is from moments like these where we are reminded of the value of happiness, and that even a small token like the gold balloons from Avery’s photo shoot can have an immense impact on a life. For Avery, these balloons allowed her to forget about her condition, her medical duties, and her personal struggles for a moment and enjoy being a kid again. As she should! We, at Make-A-Wish, are inspired by this ability to provide respite through acts of kindness, and do everything we can to mimic the beautiful change Tasha saw in her daughter that day of the photo shoot through granting wishes.