The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

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The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

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AvahStrong

“If you’re a fighter or you’re a survivor, it’s still always with you. It’s like a scar that cancer left me with. It left me with hope that I could change the world. -Avah C.
Sage P.
“If you’re a fighter or you’re a survivor, it’s still always with you. It’s like a scar that cancer left me with. It left me with hope that I could change the world.” -Avah C.

Avah is a Stage 4 cancer survivor. She is also a curly-haired, jovial 6th grade student. Just two years ago, doctors informed Avah that she had Stage 4 nephroblastoma, a cancer that attacked her kidneys. Yet she was resilient, maintaining her outgoing personality, even after two dozen chemotherapy treatments.

For months, Avah had struggled with severe headaches and nausea. After a thorough physical exam and multiple tests, doctors were able to identify the problem, concluding that Avah had Wilms Tumor (also known as nephroblastoma).

“I had to have a dreaded blood test, and after a physical exam on my stomach along with an MRI, doctors told my mom that they were pretty sure it was a Wilms Tumor in my left kidney,” said Avah. 

Multiple chemotherapy treatments deteriorated her physical condition. She quickly lost her appetite and began dropping weight, the result of throwing up and severe nausea.

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“When I was going into chemo treatments, I was 70 lbs. When I was done with it, I was 42 lbs,” said Avah.

A series of surgeries and chemotherapy also affected Avah’s mental health, as her anxiety kept her up at night. The “red-devil medicine” she constantly took, left her in a mental state of fear. She finally found the medical support that she needed to build confidence and sustain her motivation.

“I developed anxiety from [chemotherapy] treatments, and it got so severe that I would cry over anything,” Avah said.

She fought with her parents in an attempt to avoid treatment, as it was traumatic and stressful. 

“I would cry, scream, and beg not to go to chemo. I would ask them why they were letting this happen to me,” said Avah. “The anxiety I had during this time was a lot. I was able to talk to a really nice doctor that helped me get through those rough mental attacks.”

Avah’s distaste for the doctor’s office seemed to fade as she recovered – although, sometimes, it lingered in the air, haunting her.

“[I kept] thinking how if I didn’t fight, and keep a smile on my face, how much I’d let my family down,” said Avah.

Two years have passed since her initial diagnosis, and doctors only recently declared that Avah was in remission. Though the wounds are still fresh, she wants to spread awareness about children’s cancer. She’s using her experience to encourage those who are undergoing similar adversity. 

“[I want people to have hope that] they can survive and they are worthy of surviving,” said Avah. 

Avah’s grandmother, Renee, created AvahStrong which has raised awareness through the sale of clothing and accessories. 

“My grandma [started my business] so I could raise money,” said Avah. “I am very grateful for all the love and support I was given.”

In an effort to support those in similar circumstances, Avah has also participated in blood drives and used her business proceeds to purchase goody bags for kids with cancer.

“I make goody bags filled with Play-Doh, toys, bracelets, fidgets, stickers, and notebooks everything I would have wanted while I was at the hospital,” she said.

Avah also launched her own website. Her hope is to raise awareness by educating her peers and speaking out for those who need her voice. She recently presented at a Curefest rally in Washington D.C. to advocate for  children who experience pediatric cancer. She explained her struggle with nephroblastoma and the challenges of chemotherapy. 

“I will keep advocating for my fellow warriors that need me,” said Avah. “If you’re a fighter or you’re a survivor, it’s still always with you. It’s like a scar that cancer left me with. It left me with hope that I could change the world.”

This story was originally published on The Day Creek Howl on November 14, 2022.