Little Ava’s heartbreaking bucket list
Four-year-old Ava Pearce tells everyone she wants to be a mummy one day but tragically the little dynamo with the infectious smile is unlikely to grow up.
No child should need a bucket list but that is the sad reality for the Pearce family as Ava has a brain tumour that keeps growing back after surgery and treatment and it is now inoperable.
"Ava may not see Christmas so her step brothers and sisters have created a list of things to do with her that we will all remember for ever. A visit to SeaWorld and Dreamworld, a puppy, a family photo - but for me my wish would be as simple as being given enough time to hold her little hand and walk her into her first day at school," mum Amanda said.
The nightmare began back in late 2018 when Ava was diagnosed with an ependymoma tumour which is rare and aggressive.
"Ava had vomiting and was lethargic for weeks and it looked like it was some kind of gastro. But one day she held the back of her head and screamed and immediately wet herself. I knew then something was badly wrong.
Surgery revealed the shock news that it was a brain tumour the size of an orange and the neurosurgeon was not able to remove the whole tumour.
After many rounds of chemo and radiation, scans showed it kept growing back. She had a second surgery but on the third op doctors worked relentlessly for seven hours and were unable to remove any of the tumour as it was too dangerous.
"That is when the reality hit that we were running out of options", her mum said.
Ava is now one of only a handful of Australians taking part in a chemotherapy trial from the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. It is aimed at children with relapsed and recurrent tumours.
"If this worked it would be a total miracle to buy more time. The doctors at the Queensland Children's Hospital have been amazing and have been upset themselves about Ava's poor prognosis. They couldn't have done any more for her," she said.
Amanda and her husband Damien hope to spend as many precious moments with Ava as possible and Amanda, who is the main bread winner, has given up her jobs.
"It is very hard for me to not think about what is coming but Ava is so resilient. She teaches us every day to live in the moment as she whizzes around giggling on her pink scooter," she said.