6 Years Old Brain Cancer Survivor’s Amazing Journey

brain cancer survivor story

“Just keeping swimming” -Dory

Ava McPhee was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2017. She has successfully defeated her disease. She was just 4 years old when she was diagnosed.

Update: Ava had a scan again in December (2018) and that doctor told us that they can see the spot but it is still tiny and they believe that because it hasn’t grown, it must be scar tissue.

We have noticed big improvements with Ava’s memory and energy the past few months. Children are such little troopers and we’re so proud of her.

The Diagnosis:

“There were concerning symptoms such as we noticed that Ava seemed more forgetful and was sick a lot, but her health otherwise seemed perfect. She was only four and our doctor wasn’t too worried.

We discovered her tumour when her left eye turned inward. We rushed to the optometrist who rushed us to a specialist at the hospital and a CT scan revealed a brain tumour.”

The Journey:

brain cancer survivor sharing her journey

“Thankfully there was a full resection in March of 2017 but then we learned it had been a grade three ependymoma. Six weeks later we were in Florida for proton radiation.

Luckily Ava recovered from surgery and radiation really easily. We noticed that she tired a lot easier and her short term memory has been affected but she was a trooper and really to this day, she doesn’t really understand how serious the situation was.

We had a scare a year later in March of 2018 when a spot showed up on her MRI. It was too small to operate right away and we decided to put her on a therapeutic ketogenic diet even though our oncologists discouraged it.

In April they called the tumour stable and then in June and again in September they could no longer see the spot. Our doctors say it must not have been a tumour, and maybe it wasn’t but the early evidence supporting keto and low carb is compelling enough for us to stick to this way of eating. We feel best knowing we are giving Ava every advantage possible.”

Motivation to fight cancer:

“As a caregiver, nothing matters more to me than keeping Ava healthy and happy.”

Biggest hindrance:

brain cancer survivor sharing your message

“I have been frustrated with the lack of support for the ketogenic diet. Children have been using it for epilepsy for almost 100 years but people are afraid to touch it with kids and cancer.

Luckily I was introduced to the Maxlove Project and have received incredible support from them and their Facebook support group.”

Message to others:

brain cancer survivor message to other cancer patients

“There is nothing scarier to a parent than having to imagine a future without your child. It’s ok to let the fear in. It’s ok to have bad days. But don’t forget to live. To fill each day with happiness.

We appreciate our children in an entirely new way and there is beauty in that. The stress and anxiety will always be there so find tools to help you manage. I am grateful a counsellor got me into meditation and breathing exercises.”


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