CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - "Hi, Molly. I'm writing to tell you about my 4-year-old daughter, Ava Reece. I'm her proud mama, Amanda."
Ava lives in Kannapolis. Almost a year ago she had an upper respiratory infection which doctors kept saying was viral. But after becoming pale, having no appetite and getting really weak, her mom demanded more tests.
The tests showed such low blood counts Ava was rushed to Levine Children's Hospital. A few days later the diagnosis was confirmed - Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
"Those words were like knives piercing my heart," Amanda says. "You hear about other kids getting sick, getting cancer, but you NEVER think it'll be your baby. Only, then it suddenly is. Your whole world stops."
Amanda says little things that used to matter now don't.
Everyday she thinks, "How did cancer happen to my little girl?"
Since Ava's diagnosis she has had a PICC line, a port in her chest, 3 bone marrow aspirations, 13 spinal taps, weekly chemo, extremely tough steroids and injections at home.
She's now in maintenance therapy. Better, but still intense. Ava's "maintenance" means one type of chemo daily by mouth, a second type weekly, a third type of chemo that comes in monthly, and a fourth chemo every twelve weeks.
I mean, she's 4. And that's her regiment.
That's what some of these cancers do to kids. Put poisons in their tiny bodies in an effort to save them.
"Her tiny body has been through so much," says her mom. "She is an amazing, brave little girl. She's my hero."
Beautiful words from a proud mom.
If you're interested in learning more about Ava, follow "Ava's Army" on Facebook >> http://tinyurl.com/q64keqy
And of course, feel free to share Ava's story. Feel free to share all 30 kids this month. September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness (ACTION) Month. Do what you can -- whether that's start a conversation, spreading the word or donating time, money or heart to one of the many fundraisers around Charlotte this month.
If nothing else, take Ava's smile with you all day. I know I will.